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Dhaka Tribune

Covid-19: Gonoshasthaya test kit production facing delay

DGDA granted permission to import reagent to develop Covid-19 test kits on March 17

Update : 29 Mar 2020, 08:37 PM

Gonoshasthaya Kendra's production of Covid-19 test kits is at risk of getting delayed as the reagent – the key ingredient to develop a trial batch of Covid-19 test kits – which is being imported, has not reached the country yet.

Other issues such as lack of manpower and the government’s lack of interest in Gonoshasthaya's rapid test kit, as it is in favour of trusting Real-time PCR kits, are also hindering the process.

Earlier, the Directorate General of Drug Administration (DGDA) had granted permission to import the reagent, Covid-19 Dot Blot Immuno Assay.

DGDA also formed a committee with experts to evaluate the laboratories which would be used to develop the detection kits. 

The committee will also ensure if the labs pass certification of biosafety level 2.

Gonoshasthaya Kendra Founder Dr Zafrullah Chowdhury told Dhaka Tribune: “Some ingredients have reached the country while some have not. They [Exporter] are saying some ingredients will reach on Monday or Tuesday. We cannot trust fully until we get ingredients in our hands. We have to wait until next week.  Then we can give you an update."

Also Read - Covid-19: Can local testing kits be a saviour?

Mentioning lack of manpower as an issue since all government offices are closed due to the government's initiative to maintain social distancing, Zafrullah said: “There is a disruption. We can say it is getting delayed a bit. No new update at this moment.”    

Major General Md Mahbubur Rahman, director-general and licensing authority of DGDA said: “No country is using rapid test kits due to its inefficiency. We have enough Real-time PCR kits. So we are not thinking about rapid test kits that much." 

“Gonoshasthaya is working to formulate the kits. Government will decide where and how it will be used,” he said.

Earlier, Dr Zafrullah Chowdhury said DGDA had given approval to develop the detection kits. Raw materials for the kits would reach Bangladesh from the UK in a week.

On the night of March 17, Gonoshasthaya Kendra declared that they had developed "Rapid Dot Blot"— a cheap testing kit that can examine samples to detect Covid-19 in as little as 15 minutes.

A technical team of Gonoshasthaya-RNA Biotech Limited developed the testing kits and it cost about Tk2 crore.

After a two-month research, Prof Dr Bijon Kumar Sil, head of the Department of Microbiology at Gono Bishwabidyalay, and his four associates Dr Nihad Adnan, Dr Md Raed Jamiruddin, Dr Firoze Ahmed, and Dr Muhibullah Khandaker, invented the kit.

On March 19, Major General Md Mahbubur Rahman said they have to test the kit with a third party laboratory, such as the International Centre for Diarrhoeal Disease Research, Bangladesh (icddr,b).

“Also considering the serious public health concern, we will inspect the lab where the kit would be developed,” he added.

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