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Mandela Rhodes Alumnus makes a significant contribution to Coronavirus fight

Published 30 April 2020

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Last time we touched base with Daniel Ndima, he was working on a spin-out company incubated by the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR). Today is he a founding CEO of Cape Bio Technologies; a groundbreaking applied genomics company. Daniel is a Mandela Rhodes Scholar from the Class of 2015, who along with his business partner Dineo Lioma, has developed qCPR testing kits to test for Covid-19 that can provide results within an hour.

Speaking to All Africa about the kits he said, "Our kits help pathologists isolate and identify a virus DNA or genetic material from an infected person. This makes it possible to detect the virus accurately in a laboratory."

The reason testing speed has been emphasised is because it gives a clear picture of how a virus is spreading in the country which then allows government to make more informed decisions for interventions. Furthermore, such a product mitigates South Africa’s reliance on external imports of the testing kit thus making it easier to access and more affordable especially in a time of heightened trade regulations.

Elsewhere on the continent, similarly innovative interventions are being developed for the purpose of having a nimble response to the Covid-19 crisis given Africa’s uniquely vulnerable circumstance. Earlier this week Al Jazeera reported that Senegal has developed $1 diagnostic kits that were originally made for testing Dengue fever. The country only has 50 ventilator machines available for a population of 16 million; this has led to engineers using 3D printing machines to produce more ventilators to forgo the $16000 price tag of importing them.

We are immensely proud of Daniel Ndima's achievement. It is encouraging to see African countries creating their own solutions especially within public health, a sector that has historically challenged the continent. As viral infections move towards their peak, we hope to see more positive news coming out of the continent.

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