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Uganda: Lancet Laboratories Stopped from Conducting COVID-19 Tests

The prestigious Lancet Laboratories has been dropped from the official list of accredited Laboratories to carry out COVID-19 testing in Uganda, Chimp Corps report.

According to new list issued by the Health Ministry, COCVID-19 testing will be carried out by 14 laboratories which include Uganda Virus Research Institute (UVRI), Makerere University, Mildmay Laboratory, Joint Clinical Research Centre (JCRC), Infectious Disease Institute (IDI), Uganda Cancer Institute and Central Public Health Laboratory among others.

Until recently, Lancet Laboratories was among the few carefully picked private laboratories to conduct Coronavirus tests.

Health Ministry Spokesperson Emmanuel Ainebyoona confirmed the authenticity of the new list of labs.

‘Yes, that is the new list of accredited laboratories to conduct COVID-19 tests,” he told ChimpReports when contacted on Monday morning.

He did not comment on the dropping of Lancet.

The new list of accredited laboratories to conduct COVID-19 tests in Uganda

However, the development comes amid a huge public outcry over alleged incompetence by Lancet Laboratories in the management of COVID-19 tests.

Recently, Rebecca Tumwebaze recounted how COVID-test results of her associate, Flora, were messed up at Lancet Laboratories.

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Tumwebaze revealed that as standard procedure at Nakasero Hospital for anyone going into theater, Flora was required to submit a Covid19 certificate showing they were free from the virus. So two days earlier, Flora had left her sample at Lancet laboratories and paid a Shs 350, 000 for a Covid19 test.

“At Lancet Laboratories, we were told they needed to verify the results but everyone who had anything to do with them was out of office since it was a Sunday. The lady told us to wait as she made a few calls,’ recalled Tumwebaze.

“Interestingly as we waited, we found ourselves unintentionally eavesdropping on the phone conversations and we got to learn that on the same day when Flora submitted her samples to Lancet, another person too had submitted their sample. So on this beautiful Sunday morning, there were two people at the lab waiting to pick their Covid-19 test result but the lady had only one result and seemed unsure whose it was,” said Tumwebaze.

The tests came out positive. But when Flora’s samples were taken to Mulago, Ndejje health center IV and finally Central Public Health Laboratories, they came out negative.

Health Minister Dr Ruth Aceng recently said laboratories were messing up COVID-test results.

She said a routine quality assurance procedure identified the discordance in some of the samples, and upon retesting at the Uganda Virus Research Institute, 9 cases were found to be false positives.

Aceng attributed the discrepancies in laboratory results to mishandling of samples, which she said, is not uncommon in laboratory management – the reason why multiple confirmatory tests are done on the same samples.

COVID-19 has so far killed 172 people in Uganda since the outbreak of the pandemic in March 2020.

On November 21, 301 cases were confirmed, bringing the cumulative confirmed cases to 17,986. 8,611 patients have recovered.  Uganda has so far conducted 609,268 tests since March.

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