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Health startup 54gene raises $500,000 in 24 hours to scale COVID-19 testing



Dr. Abasi Ene-Obong
54gene Founder, Dr. Abasi Ene-Obong

 BY: Yinka Okeowo

A health startup based in Nigeria raised over 500K USD to raise the testing capability of the country by an additional 1,000 in a day and also the funds will be used to procure the required biosafety materials such as biosafety cabinets and personal protective equipment needed to keep frontline healthcare workers safe.

The 54gene team is also making a call for a COVID-19 workforce trained in using qPCR instruments and other molecular diagnostics methods.

In Nigeria, confirmed COVID-19 cases have gone up to 97 with 1 death and 3 recoveries recorded so far.

The Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) has been coordinating with the Ministry of Health to contain the threat for weeks now. But there’s a perceived lack of capacity for handling a viral outbreak.

Working together with the officials the with the NCDC and other stakeholders, 54gene’s team expects to start deploying the fund within days, purchasing vital testing equipment, to be used by medical professionals. It is expected that funds raised will be channeled towards recruiting these people for a period of time to support existing public laboratories.

This is a difficult time for business across Africa but a great catchall for health startups. Businesses need to tweak thier business model to attract some audience at the minimum if not investment. Business calls for constant innovation, according to a blog post on Africa Business Startup.

Nine months ago, 54genethe D.B.A. of Stack Diagnostics, an African-focused healthtech genomics and AI start-up that is leading in the diagnosis and medical treatment of people in Africa, raised a $4.5M seed round with participation from Y CombinatorFifty Years, Better VenturesKdT VenturesHack VC and Techammer, among others.



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