Bangladesh greenlights antigen-based rapid tests for COVID-19

Until now, only the RT-PCR tests have been conducted in all authorised laboratories since the first coronavirus cases were detected in the country in March.

The antigen-based rapid tests will speed up the testing process, according to experts, as cases of the coronavirus continued to rise in the country, crossing 350,000 on Monday.

The antigen tests were given the go-ahead in a letter issued by Bilkis Begum, the deputy secretary to the health ministry, on Sept 17.

The letter from the Department of Health said that all government medical college hospitals, district hospitals and government PCR laboratories in the country will soon be allowed to conduct antigen tests.

The decision was taken in line with the proposal of the Directorate General of Health Services and the World Health Organization’s ‘interim guidance’ to address the need for antigen tests in Bangladesh.

Director-General of Health Services ABM Khurshid Alam believes the approval of the antigen-based tests will accelerate the COVID-19 sample testing procedure.

The tests can be conducted quickly and at a low cost, he told on Monday.

“It takes a lot of money to install a RT-PCR kit. That is why antigen-based testing will be effective in areas where RT-PCR devices are not available.

“It will be possible to increase testing using the antigen-based method, particularly in districts where RT-PCR devices are unavailable. If the number of tests increases, we will be able to tell at what stage the coronavirus epidemic is in the country,” Alam added.

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