We must use all the strategies at our disposal to ramp up antigen testing
At last, it is promising to see that the Directorate General of Health Services has decided to introduce antigen testing. For now, antigen testing will be conducted alongside PCR tests and in government-run laboratories only. While for now there seem to be no plans to introduce antibody testing, this latest decision does move us in the right direction, with giving hope the more overall testing will be done throughout the country.
When it comes to fighting the spread of coronavirus, one of our biggest challenges is rampant misinformation. We simply know too little about what is happening in terms of infection due to incomplete data, which in turn comes down to inadequate systems.
Granted, Bangladesh faces a steeper challenge in this regard than most other countries. Success stories like Iceland and New Zealand which make plausible claims of having beaten the pandemic are wealthy as well as sparsely populated. In a densely populated country where many still live in poverty, this is nearly impossible.
Nevertheless, we must use all the strategies at our disposal to ramp up antigen testing, as well increase antibody testing, because we simply do not have the luxury of not doing so.
Now that antigen tests are being introduced, they must be made accessible for all. As has been suggested by experts earlier, tests should be available in every community clinic, and in every emergency department of every hospital. Tests should be taken door to door if need be.
Low-cost, accessible, and rapid antigen tests may very well be our best bet in fighting this crisis, because time-consuming tests which rely on expensive, advanced technology would be out of reach of most of our population.