Bangladesh so far has confirmed a total of 162,417 Covid-19 cases and 2,052 deaths
Experts have suggested that immediate introduction of antigen and antibody testing facilities in every part of the country has become essential in the fight against Covid-19.
Experts came up with this suggestion during a webinar titled “Application of antibody testing to monitor, treat and prevent the spread of Covid-19” jointly organized by the Health Alliance Bangladesh and Health Watch, on Sunday.
The session was moderated by Sadaf Siddiqi, a molecular biologist.
According to experts, it is unknown how many people have so far been infected and how many have recovered from the deadly virus and this is causing difficulties in the implementation of the policies taken to tackle the outbreak, and leaving a huge number of the critically ill patients suffering from different diseases untreated.
Dr Be-Nazir Ahmed, a specialist of infectious diseases, said: “It is urgent for us to start antigen and antibody detection tests in every community clinic, every emergency department of every hospital, and if possible at door to door level.
“Emergency departments of all our hospitals should start antigen testing so that they can treat patients who are suffering from different kinds of critical illnesses.”
“There are about 14,000 to 15,000 community clinics in the country, more than 400 upazila health complexes, and in all of these places we should introduce these testing facilities which only needs 15 minutes to give result,” he added.
“When all the individuals in the hotspot areas will be are brought under this antibody and antigen testing effort then we will be able to control Covid-19 within three to four months,” he said.
Dr M Sawkat Hassan, director (laboratory services) of Birdem General Hospital, said: “Many patients need C-sections, and many need ICU services during the pandemic for diseases other than coronavirus.
“They are running from one hospital to another but cannot find treatment. Thus, there is no alternative to antigen and antibody tests to get rid of this problem.
“It is high time that the government approves antigen and antibody tests in the country,” he said.
“If antibody tests are conducted on a large scale then we will be able to see that a lot of them have been infected and also recovered from Covid-19.
“Antibody tests have to be conducted before one gets the vaccine so that misuse of it can be prevented,” added Prof Nazrul Islam, a virologist and former vice chancellor of Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujib Medical University (BSMMU).
Echoing the same, M Sawkat, said: “If someone had symptoms of Covid-19 but did not get tested, and now is worried about their families then they should go for antibody tests.”
Prof Nazrul, who is also a member of the National Technical Advisory Committee on Covid-19, claimed that the government is not listening to their advice and suggestions properly.
“We had suggested the government to start antigen tests early last month. But there’s still no progress regarding this issue.”
Dr Be-Nazir Ahmed said: “The recommendations made by us are not being implemented and this is completely unacceptable.
“The health sector has been commercialized thus creating all the mismanagement,” he said.