To prove its claim that the test kits are poor quality, the RDS yesterday (Aug 17) vowed to test them in a real-life setting.
The tests will be conducted by all 60 teams that will join a fourth round of COVID-19 active case-finding operations in Bangkok, RDS president, Dr Supat Hasuwannakit, said in a statement.
Instead of checking to see if the test kits were up to standard, the ministry and other parties involved in the procurement kept insisting the bidding to select the supplier was above board and that the test kits’ quality was adequate, he said.
The doctor cited results of a Pakistani study, published in Virology Journal, to back his claim that the Lepu ATKs lack testing accuracy.
Although checks on the ATKs would only take a few days, the ministry didn’t conduct any when questions were raised over their quality.
The RDS sees this as a failure by the ministry to protect the public interest, he said.
While not attempting to clear up doubts raised over the test kits’ quality, the ministry has insisted on proceeding with the procurement of 8.5 million of them, he said.
“Testing of the ATKs by the RDS will begin as soon as they are distributed for use for COVID-19 testing and if they are proved to be of low quality, someone has to take responsibility for this controversial procurement,” he said.
The doctor also accused the ministry of planning to spend another B180 million on another batch of the same kits, which was denied by Dr Kiattiphum Wongrajit, permanent secretary for public health.
New regulations will be drafted for the purchase of the new COVID-19 test kits, which are actually intended for healthcare workers who need regular testing, said Dr Kiattiphum.
The idea is the test kits to be bought next don’t necessarily need to be of the highest quality, but a product of good quality approved by the Food and Drug Administration, he said.