ECONOMYNEXT- Sri Lanka is to use Rapid Antigen testing to detect COVID-19 patients as the number of people infected with the virus continues to increase exponentially a member of the country’s National Medicines Regulatory Authority (NMRA) said.
Member of NMRA Dr Ananda Wijewickrema told a Television interview today that the Authority has given approval last Friday to order the new Rapid Antigen testing kits which were approved by the World Health Organisation (WHO) to identify COVID patients.
He said that Sri Lanka is expected to receive 20,000 test kits as the first batch from the WHO in the coming days and that the State Pharmaceuticals Corporation will continue to order them.
He also added the NMRA previously has rejected many antigen tests which were proposed by various parties for COVID-19 testing as they had low accuracy but as this test is already WHO approved the NMRA quickly approved it.
Wijewickrema told Adaderana that the cost of these test kits are very low and test results can be obtained within 20 minutes.
He said that using Rapid Antigen testing is a good solution for the increase of patients as results can be obtained quickly.
He said the test kits are expected to be used to test contacts of already identified COVID patients, to test people showing up at hospital OPDs with symptoms similar to COVID, and conduct random tests in the community.
According to WHO, the rapid antigen tests target virus proteins and somewhat resemble pregnancy tests.
They aren’t yet available at pharmacies and can only be administered by trained medical personnel. With a nasal or throat swab, testers can find out within approximately 15 minutes whether a patient has contracted the SARS-CoV-2 virus and is infectious and must be quarantined.
The WHO also announced that it will provide 120 million rapid antigen tests to people in lower- and middle-income countries over the next six months.
The test manufacturers, South Korea’s SD BioSensor and US-based Abbott Laboratories have agreed to provide 20pct of their test kits to lower- and middle-income countries. The remainder will be made available to wealthier nations, some of whom are helping to finance the test drive. Germany, for example, has already ordered some 20 million test kits. (Colombo/Oct26/2020)
Reported by Imesh Ranasinghe