A project to implement a COVID-19 testing strategy using rapid antigen tests was implemented in Niger and Mali in July 2021.
This was after it became clear that case numbers were vastly underestimated.
In Mali and Niger, seroprevalence studies showed that the number of COVID-19 cases in the region was underestimated because many people were asymptomatic or showing very few symptoms.
Both countries also had very limited screening capacity, and insufficient triage to allow for efficient screening.
PCR-testing (the gold standard for testing, but only available where there are laboratory facilities) was only available to a few facilities.
But rapid antigen tests have provided an opportunity for health workers to detect, isolate and manage COVID-19 cases.
The ECOVAM – ECOVAN project implemented a screening strategy using rapid antigen testing for patients at different levels of healthcare.
It also evaluated the cost-effectiveness and acceptability of this screening strategy among patients, caregivers, and government decision makers.
The project was launched in Mali and Niger and started with the procurement of 10 000 antigen tests funded by FIND.
It will evaluate the capacity of healthcare workers to perform rapid antigen tests and also use the data generated by the tests to provide information to the respective governments to make a decision on integrating antigen testing into their national COVID-19 strategies.