Complex solutions when simpler solutions exist – could Covid-19 testing have been done in a simpler way in Battor and other parts of Ghana?

Wednesday, July 7, 2021.

We are ‘an interesting breed’ in this country and on this continent. We want complex solutions to problems. It is difficult to convince people about simple solutions that work. No wonder, an editor of a scientific journal, a professor from Nigeria, would tell us in Battor that: “implementing a cervical cancer prevention programme is not as simplistic as we describe when it is properly done.”

After one year of trying to make ‘the powers that be’ aware of a much simpler way of Covid-19 testing (using the AmpFire real time PCR platform which we already have in Battor, and could have been used across the country for other tests including cervical precancer screening with HPV DNA testing, STI testing etc), yesterday our medical superintendent shared information with us: Catholic Hospital, Battor has now been equipped to run Covid-19 tests with the Genexpert platform (attached photos).

Good news but I believe we can do it cheaper, faster and in a more cost-effective way with the AmpFire platform. And we could have started a year ago!

The Genexpert platform has a low throughput. It can run only 4 samples at a time (and will be competing with sputum samples to be tested for tuberculosis). In an hour, 4 samples can be tested? 32 samples in 8 hours?

For the AmpFire platform, up to 700 samples can be run per day – for a single equipment in 8 hours.

How much does the Genexpert cartridge cost per test? And who pays for it?
That may be another thesis for another time.

Yesterday, I sent a message to Atila Biosystems Inc, the company that makes the AmpFire tests (Covid-19, HPV, STIs etc) asking for current information on the use of the AmpFire platform for Covid-19 testing.

This is the response I received:

Dr. Effah, thank you so much for thinking about Atila. Our COVID test is as simple as HPV test. Sample to results is about an hour. You can do any number of samples. Per test is $11.99. Each kit is for 100 tests.

Slide 7 shows simple workflow. Please let me know if you have any questions. We would love to support you.

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