COVID-19: Noguchi Explains Ghana's Enhanced Testing Capacity
The Noguchi Memorial Institute for Medical Research (NMIMR) has explained how the country has been able to increase its testing capacity of samples for the novel coronavirus.
The Head of Virology at Noguchi, Professor William Ampofo, speaking at a press briefing on Wednesday, April 22, 2020, said testing labs had resorted to pooling samples to become more efficient.
Questions have been raised about Noguchi, the Kumasi Centre for Collaborative Research in Tropical Medicine (KCCR), and the Public Health Reference Laboratory’s abilities to test about 80,000 samples so far.
“We simply pool the samples, meaning that, if you have 1,000 samples, you put them in groups of 10 and you test 100 pools at a time. So in a short time, instead of testing 1,000 samples, you actually test 10,000 samples. This method we are using now was derived in 1945 and this very efficient way we have proceeded,” Prof. Ampofo explained.
If there is a positive result in a mini-pool, individual testing is then carried out on the reserved samples that were put in the pool.
Prof. Ampofo added that the rate of testing could even increase further in the next few days.
“Actually, since he [President Nana Akufo-Addo] addressed us [last Sunday], we have tested close to 30,000 samples using the same method. So please do not be surprised if you hear in the next couple of days that we have tested 100,000 samples in Ghana. It is just a matter of multiplication and addition.”
Concerns of data credibility
A former Director-General of the Ghana Health Service (GHS), Professor Agyeman Badu Akosa, demanded an explanation after he raised concerns over the accuracy of data provided by the government since the outbreak of the novel Coronavirus in Ghana.
He also alleged that Ghana's a stated case count of 1,042, which has since increased, had already been published on the government's dedicated website for COVID-19 cases days earlier but was deleted and changed minutes after – thereby raising suspicion of data manipulation.
But a Deputy Information Minister, Pius Enam Hadzide, expressed shock at the allegations levelled against the government.
“I am particularly scandalised hearing that a man of the standing of Prof. Akosa will allegedly make those statements. I am scandalised, and to accuse the government of managing the figures without providing any iota of evidence.”