27th May 2024

Head of Virology Department, Noguchi Memorial Institute for Medical Research (NMIMR), Professor William Kwabena Ampofo

The Head of Virology at Noguchi Memorial Institute for Medical Research, William Ampofo, has said that testing labs had resorted to pooling samples to become more efficient.

He said this in a bid to clarify how the country has been able to increase its testing capacity of samples for coronavirus.

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.

Speaking at the Information Ministry’s press briefing on Wednesday, April 22 Prof. Ampofo added that the rate of testing could even increase further in the next few days.

“Actually, since 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,” he said.

Barcode to be introduced

To improve efficiency in the processing of samples, the Ghana Health Service is set to introduce a barcode system.

“We wish we had done this from the beginning,” Prof. Ampofo admitted during the briefing.

“Each sample will have a barcode with a geographical location of where the sample is collected, the sample will arrive in the lab, the barcode will be read, and then the results will be transmitted electronically from the lab back to the central database,” he explained.

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