Attempts by the government to explain itself away on the true status of the 68,591 Covid-19 tests has whipped up even more suspicions as the Presidential Advisor on Health and the Noguchi Memorial Institute for Medical Research (NMIR) have two entirely conflicting accounts.
Presidential Advisor on Health, Dr. Anthony Nsiah-Asare while speaking to Multimedia’s PM Express said: “Out of the 68,591 tested cases … it includes duplicate tests because, as I said, when somebody is tested and is isolated and being treated, after 14 days you do a second test, the person can be positive. If he’s positive, he’s still counted as a test. So you don’t count the individual, you count the number of tests. This means that the number of patients will definitely be less than the number of tests.”
Just a few hours afterwards, the Head Virologist at Noguchi Research centre, Professor William Ampofo said: “What Ghana Health Service has reported is the number of individuals who are tested. Let me repeat again, each sample is accompanied by Case Investigation form for that individual.”
According to Noguchi centre, they have a separate database for re-testing so, there is no way it can be confused with individual samples: “We have a separate database of those who have been re-tested, so when we provide data to the Ghana Health Service, it excludes those who have been re-tested. The re-testing does not affect the data that is reported,” Prof. Ampofo explained at a media encounter today organised by the Information Ministry.
“So what you get from Ghana Health Service is the individual-that particular person’s results. In medical science, we don’t put a name to a result…these are test results of individuals and not just samples.”
These two different explanations of the 68,591 figures have caused many critics to smell foul play with the Covid-19 data being churned out by the government.
According to the experts, the Noguchi Research Centre has a maximum capacity to test 1,000 potential patients in a day, while the only other research facility in Kumasi-the Kumasi Research Centres has the capacity to test only 200 in a day.
However, Prof. Ampofo has clarified that even though the Kumasi research laboratory has low capacity, Noguchi’s capacity has been boosted to be able to handle up to 3000 cases in a day with a 24-hour shift of about 150 lab technicians.
This means that for the roughly one month that Noguchi started testing for Covid-19, it should have tested up to 90,000 plus now.
However, the government’s posture is making it difficult for critics to accept that Noguchi has been operating at full capacity non-stop for about one month now.
Meanwhile, there is a backlog of about 18,000 untested samples still held at the research labs. “There is a backlog, the President told you there’s a backlog of about 18,000, so the President told you the truth, what is there, and that is the reason why we are bringing in a lot of laboratories on board so that we’ll not have backlog…” Dr. Asare admitted.