Prof. Alex Akpa, the Director-General of NABDA, disclosed this in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on Monday in Abuja.
Akpa said the two molecular diagnostic laboratories made available in the two centres of Abuja and Odi have sophisticated equipments like Real-time reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction (rRt-PCR), sequencers among others.
According to him, both laboratories are state of the art and recently well furnished with equipments required for the molecular diagnostics of COVID-19.
“We have these molecular biology laboratories which are available and can be quickly deployed to fight off this virus from our country.
“The amount of testing presently done is not enough; therefore there is need for us to test more of our citizens for this deadly virus in order to ascertain their status.
“There is room for improvement, that is why we have made these two laboratories available so that more testing centres can be created in the country,” he said.
Akpa, who said NABDA had a very important and strategic role to play in the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic in the country, also disclosed that the agency produces bio-ethanol based hand sanitisers.
He explained that these hand sanitisers were based on the use of bioethanol which made them completely indigenous.
“Our bioethanol comes from two sources; cassava and sugarcane,’’ he said.
He said the agency usually purchased the cassava predominantly from the southern part of the country, and they presently have bioethanol facilities in Owode, Ogbomosho and Akoka.
The NABDA boss pointed out that these bioethanol facilities were able to produce bioethanol using cassava.
He further said that in Odi, they also have a plant that produces bio-ethanol using sugarcane which is produced massively in the northern part of the country.
According to Akpa, “Nigeria is one of the largest producers of cassava in the world, so harnessing these two natural products would create hundreds of thousands of jobs”.
He said these jobs could be created not only in the north by using sugarcane to produce bioethanol, but also in the south where they use mainly cassava.
“It is this bioethanol that we now use to produce our hand sanitisers, and these are World Health Organisation (WHO) grade hand sanitisers, and we can produce them in commercial quantities,’’ he said.
The directive-general said the agency attended the recently concluded 2020 Science Expo in Abuja with over 30,000 pieces of 100 milligram bottle of these ethanol based hand sanitisers produced by the agency.
“Our plan is to produce up to a million bio-ethanol based hand sanitisers for our country, with the aim of supporting our government to fight off this dangerous disease.
“Nigeria is a big country and the more hand sanitisers we can produce, the better for the country and this is particularly important because it is totally indigenous, based on indigenous raw materials.
“It will also create hundreds of thousands of jobs both for cassava farmers as well as all farmers engaged in sugarcane production,’’ Akpa stressed.