‘Business interest’ stopped govt from approving Gonoshasthaya COVID-19 testing kit: Zafrullah

“This government belongs to the business community only. Therefore, they never approved the antibody and antigen testing kit prepared by us and approved the import of testing kits instead. It’s a business deal,” he alleged in an event organised on Tuesday to honour the frontline workers in combating the coronavirus pandemic.

Gonoshasthaya announced the invention of the cheap and fast-testing kits by its team led by Dr Bijon Kumar Sil after the novel coronavirus pandemic hit the Bangladesh shores.

It imported the re-agent from China and began to make the sample kits. Gonoshasthaya Kendra has named its kits “GR COVID-19 Rapid Antibody Dot Test” and claimed that it can do a coronavirus test in 5 minutes. The cost would be Tk 300-350.

Bangladesh relies only on the RT-PCR testing system for coronavirus diagnosis. It is viewed as the most reliable testing system in the world to detect the novel coronavirus called SARS-CoV-2, which causes the respiratory illness COVID-19.

Gonoshasthaya Kendra Trustee Zafrullah had accused the Directorate General of Drug Administration or DGDA of dallying in approving its kit.

After a long standoff, Gonoshasthaya submitted 200 homegrown kits to the Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujib Medical University for trial on May 13 following the DGDA’s permission. The conclusion made by the university after 34 days of assessment partly dimmed hopes for rapid testing kits developed by Gonoshasthaya.

The BSMMU said the kits were ineffective as they could accurately detect only 11-40 percent of COVID-19 cases in the first two weeks after those patients showed symptoms.

“Gonoshasthaya Kendra will not appeal again for the approval but they’ll supply the GK kit if the government approves it,” Zafrullah said during Tuesday’s event.

Recently, the government has approved the antigen test for identifying COVID-19 infection beside the RT-PCR system.

The rapid antigen test can reveal a coronavirus infection within half an hour while the RT-PCR test requires longer.

As the race for inventing a vaccine for the novel coronavirus is on, experts suggested Bangladesh begin antibody and antigen tests.

“A democratic government formed through an impartially organised snap election will ensure the development of the health sector in the country. This government is following its own will,” Zafrullah criticised the government.

The nation should mourn and pay tribute to the health professionals who died in combating the pandemic, he said, adding the government should provide assistance to the health workers.

Health workers from Gonoshasthaya Kendra and people from all walks of life clapped for a minute to honour the frontline workers combating the pandemic. The event was held simultaneously in 30 centres of Gooshasthaya Kendra.

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