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One NIP machine tests 182 samples in 8 hours

Namibia Institute of Pathology (NIP), acting chief operations officer, Bonnie Makumbi said with the current testing equipment NIP uses the number of tests done ranging from 32 to 96 which takes between 3 to 4 hours.

This comes at a time when the resulting output from NIP has come under fire as those who have been tested for COVID-19 wait up to 4 weeks for their results. 

NIP uses three machines to test samples which are the Cobas 4800 and Abbott m2000 which can test 96 samples each as well as Bioer takes about 32 samples. 

Makumbi who was speaking at the COVID-19 communications centre this morning said one machine could do up to 182 tests which depend on the time and technologists available.

“This is the throughput of the machines which still depends on what time you started and the number of personnel you have,” Makumbi added. 

Makumbi further explained that the polymerase chain reaction (PCR) tests are reliable because it tests your DNA which is not the same in individuals. 

“You could compare a PCR method to your fingerprint which is unique to one person. It drills down to the genetics of the organism which makes it reliable like your fingerprint,” Makumbi explained. 

The PCR method is used to rapidly make millions to billions of copies of a specific DNA sample, allowing scientists to take a very small sample of DNA and amplify it to a large enough amount to study in detail. 

Mukambi said the PCR testing method picks up the genome of the virus in the DNA of the sample with a heating and cooling process. 

“It is very reliable, gene-based and targeted which makes it more reliable,” Makumbi repeated.

The PCR method is used to test HIV, Tuberculosis and other flu viruses. 

Recently, NIP Head Dr David Uirab said NIP has doubled its medical technologists to deal with the backlog. 

NIP has reached 5 000 samples in terms of a backlog over the last 13 days and that has been worked down to 2 500 samples. 

About 25 to 30 samples were tested daily but now NIP tested close to 500 per day while about 600 samples are being received daily.  

Julia Heita

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