UKZN Secures COVID-19 Rapid Tester

The College of Health Sciences (CHS) at UKZN has secured an advanced instrument called the ILEX Genehecker (ultra-fast pcr) valued at $10 000 to conduct rapid testing for COVID-19.

The instrument was donated by the Gift of the Givers following a request by UKZN researchers, Professor Anil Chuturgoon, Dr Veron Ramsuran and Dr Lorna Madurai. The latter is a collaborator in the COVID-19 testing platform.

This instrument was handed over to UKZN on 25 June and was placed at UKZN’s Microbiology Laboratory at the Howard College campus, a laboratory facility currently used for testing for COVID-19.

‘This generous donation will greatly enhance our existing capacity to provide rapid results of COVID-19 tests for both our staff and students. At the same time, by extending our testing facility to external stakeholders we are able to generate much needed third-stream income for the University,’ said Chuturgoon, who is the Acting Dean of Research at CHS and a lead researcher in the COVID-19 testing platform at UKZN. ‘The generosity of the Gift of the Givers and its founder Dr Imtiaz Sooliman who is an ardent supporter of his alma mater, UKZN, is notable at a time when UKZN and other universities across the world grapple to contribute to the alleviation of this pandemic.’

Chuturgoon pointed out that the ILEX equipment gives a turnaround time of six hours compared to the usual 24-hour turnaround time using existing equipment.

Dr Veron Ramsuran, another lead researcher commented: ‘We are very excited to have access to this advanced technology which will have a huge impact with regard to speedy turnaround times, particularly for high risk situations.’ His sentiments were echoed by researcher Dr Lungi Mkhize-Kwitshana, who noted that ‘the instrument would also contribute to and enhance the excellent research endeavours within the College.’

Sooliman said, ‘What makes UKZN extra special is the quality, resilience and expertise of individuals and departments that continuously raise the bar for others to emulate. Gift of the Givers COVID-19 samples are tested at this very same UKZN facility. The professionalism, expertise, research ethic, humility and sincere dedication to humanity is unmistakable. Supporting such an institution with an ILEX pcr testing machine, to be honest, is just not enough. Professor Chuturgoon and his team of stalwarts do incredible justice to a great institution.’

Words and photograph: Lihle Sosibo