Special Covid-19 testing equipment gifted to UKZN reduces turnaround time by 18 hours

Researchers at the University of KwaZulu-Natal with the ILEX Genehecker. It will help improve the turnaround time for Covid-19 testing.
Researchers at the University of KwaZulu-Natal with the ILEX Genehecker. It will help improve the turnaround time for Covid-19 testing.
Supplied: UKZN
  • New instrumentation will help UKZN reduce its turnaround time for testing from 24 hours to just six.
  • The device is worth about $10 000 or R170 000.
  • It was donated to the university by Gift of the Givers.

The University of KwaZulu-Natal (UKZN) says its turnaround time for Covid-19 testing has been drastically reduced thanks to the donation of advanced instrumentation donated by Gift of the Givers.

The College of Health Sciences (CHS) secured the ILEX Genehecker (ultra-fast PCR) an "advanced instrument" valued at $10 000 to conduct rapid testing for Covid-19.

A statement released by UKZN spokesperson Indu Moodley said the instrument was donated by the Gift of the Givers following a request made by UKZN researchers, Professor Anil Chuturgoon, Dr Veron Ramsuran and Dr Lorna Madurai.

She said it was handed over to UKZN, on Thursday, 25 June and was placed at UKZN's Microbiology Laboratory at Howard campus, a laboratory facility currently used for testing for Covid-19.

Chuturgoon, who is the acting Dean of Research in CHS and a lead researcher at UKZN, said the donation would assist the university fast-track Covid-19 results.

"This generous donation will greatly enhance our existing capacity to provide rapid results on 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."

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Chuturgoon said the generosity of the Gift of the Givers and its head Dr Imtiaz Sooliman, came at a time when UKZN and other "universities across the world grapple to contribute to the alleviation of this pandemic".

Six-hour turnaround time

Chuturgoon said the Ilex equipment gives a turnaround time of six hours as compared to the usual 24-hour turnaround time using existing equipment.

Another lead researcher, Dr Veron Ramsuran said they were "very excited to have access to this advanced technology".

"It will have a huge impact especially with regard to speedy turnaround times particularly for high risk situations."

Dr Lungi Kwitshana, another researcher, agreed: "The instrument would also contribute and enhance the excellent research endeavours within the college."

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Commenting on the donation, Sooliman said they resolved to donate to UKZN because the institution was "continuously raising 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. Prof Chuturgoon and his team of stalwarts do incredible justice to a great institution."

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