Gonoshasthaya Kendra has asked Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujib Medical University (BSMMU) to suspend the performance trial of the coronavirus antigen kit after detection of discrepancy in collection of saliva.
"The monitoring team for the performance trial identified presence of thick cough causes negative results in a number of samples. So, we have sought temporary suspension of the trial," said Dr Mohib Ullah Khondoker, coordinator of Gonoshasthaya's Covid-19 Rapid Dot Blot Project.
He told The Daily Star that clear saliva is necessary for testing antigen but the monitoring team comprised of scientists of BSMMU and Gonoshasthaya Kendra has identified this problem in sample collection procedure.
"We have written to BSMMU authorities on June 2 that we will fix the sample collection procedure in two to three days and they can restart the trial again," Mohib Ullah told The Daily Star.
Gonoshasthaya Kendra has, meanwhile, sought speedy completion of the trial of antibody test kit and submission of the report to the Directorate General of Drug Administration (DGDA) so that the latter can authorise mass production and marketing of the antibody test kit.
A team of Gonoshasthaya Kendra scientists developed the antibody and antigen kits for testing Covid-19 in mid-March. On April 26, they approached the DGDA for validation of the kit.
The drug administration, however, suggested that Gonoshasthaya goes through the contract research organisation (CRO), but Gonoshasthaya refused to do it saying it would raise the price of kit and that CROs were a vehicle of corruption.
On April 30 the DGDA allowed Gonoshasthaya to get performance trial at BSMMU. Gonoshasthaya supplied 500 antibody kits and 500 antigen kits to the BSMMU for trials.
Gonoshasthaya Kendra Founder and Trustee Dr Zafrullah Chowdhury has repeatedly demanded that the authorities go for emergency authorisation of the antibody kits as the infection rate is increasing every day.
The antibody kit, which is low-cost and can give result in 10 minutes, could be used for large-scale testing and isolation of the infected people -- a way that could prevent spread of the virus, he said recently.
In its own trial, Gonoshasthaya found more than 90 percent accuracy of the tests. The test kit -- RT-PCR -- that is now being used in Bangladesh is considered gold standard, but that's time-consuming and expensive.