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Wits seeks volunteers for Covid-19 testing study

Project will gauge accuracy of rapid coronavirus test kits

The University of the Witwatersrand in South Africa has announced that it is seeking volunteers for a study to test the efficacy of quick-turnaround Covid-19 test kits.

The researchers seek 300 volunteers who have tested positive for the coronavirus, or who have been in close contact with somebody who tested positive. Nurses will collect saliva and blood samples from volunteers at their homes, says Elizabeth Mayne, the head of Wits immunology division. The samples will be used to validate rapid-turnaround tests that have been brought into South Africa. 

Mayne said that many rapid tests, which can deliver results within minutes, have not “performed consistently well”. She said inaccurate tests may drive infection numbers up if those who receive wrong results inadvertently infect more people.