Scientists in Bangladesh develop $3 virus testing kit

A volunteer sprays disinfectant inside a bus amid concerns about the spread of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in Dhaka, Bangladesh, March 18, 2020. (REUTERS)
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Updated 21 March 2020

Scientists in Bangladesh develop $3 virus testing kit

  • First batch of devices available in 3 weeks after govt gives mass production go-ahead

DHAKA: A $3 coronavirus testing kit, which experts claim can detect COVID-19 disease in less than 15 minutes, has been cleared for mass production by Bangladeshi authorities.

The first batch of the virus testers, developed by a group of Bangladeshi scientists, is expected to be available within three weeks.
Prof. Dr. Bijon Kumar Sil, leader of the research team, invented a similar kit for detecting the SARS coronavirus while working in Singapore during the outbreak of the respiratory disease in 2003.
The COVID-19 product got the Bangladeshi government’s production go-ahead on Thursday.
Dr. Zafrullah Chowdhury, founder of Bangladesh health NGO Gonoshasthaya Kendra, said: “Our scientists at Gonoshasthaya-RNA Biotech lab have worked hard for the last two-and-a-half months.
“Finally, we have been successful in producing the Rapid Dot Blot, which is a cheap testing kit that can examine samples to detect COVID-19 as fast as in 15 minutes.”
The kit detects the presence of COVID-19 antibodies in people suspected of having contracted the disease, Chowdhury told
Arab News.
The team of scientists who developed the kit was made up of Sil, Dr. Nihad Adnan, Dr. Mohammad Raed Jamiruddin, Dr. Firoze Ahmed, and Dr. Muhibullah Khandaker from the department of microbiology at Gono Bishwabidyalay, a private university affiliated with Gonoshasthaya Kendra.

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The kit detects the presence of COVID-19 antibodies in people suspected of having contracted the disease.

“We received clearance from the Directorate General of Drug Administration (DGDA) and started importing reagents from the United Kingdom. They are expected to arrive in the next 10 days. The first batch of the kits will be ready in 20 days and will cost only $3,” Chowdhury added.
Rapid Dot Blot is capable of detecting COVID-19 from three days after a person becomes infected, as it takes 72 hours for human antibodies to develop.
Although the test will initially only be available at health centers, the researchers are working to produce a home-use version, Chowdhury said.
Maj. Gen. Mohammed Mahbubur Rahman, director general of the DGDA, the country’s drug licensing authority, told Arab News that the Rapid Dot Blot still needed to be checked by a third-party laboratory before entering the market.
Bangladesh, one of the world’s most densely populated countries, confirmed its first COVID-19 case on March 8. Since then, there have been 20 reported cases and one death.


Narendra Modi pledges to use India vaccine-production capacity to help ‘all humanity’

Updated 26 September 2020

Narendra Modi pledges to use India vaccine-production capacity to help ‘all humanity’

  • Modi said India was moving ahead with Phase 3 clinical trials
  • UN chief Antonio Guterres has been pushing for a “people’s vaccine” that is available and affordable everywhere

NEW YORK: Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi pledged at the United Nations on Saturday that his country’s vaccine production capacity would be made available globally to fight the COVID-19 crisis.
“As the largest vaccine-producing country of the world, I want to give one more assurance to the global community today,” Modi said in a pre-recorded speech to the UN General Assembly. “India’s vaccine production and delivery capacity will be used to help all humanity in fighting this crisis.”
Modi said India was moving ahead with Phase 3 clinical trials — the large-scale trials considered the gold standard for determining safety and efficacy — and would help all countries enhance their cold chain and storage capacities for the delivery of vaccines.
Modi said in August that India was ready to mass produce COVID-19 vaccines when scientists gave the go-ahead.
UN chief Antonio Guterres has been pushing for a “people’s vaccine” that is available and affordable everywhere and expressed concern on Tuesday that some countries were “reportedly making side deals exclusively for their own populations.”
“Such ‘vaccinationalism’ is not only unfair, it is self-defeating. None of us is safe until all of us are safe. Everybody knows that,” he told the General Assembly
Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison told the General Assembly on Friday: “Whoever finds the vaccine must share it.”
“Some might see short- term advantage, or even profit,” Morrison said. “But I assure you to anyone who may think along those lines, humanity will have a very long memory and be a very, very severe judge.
“Australia’s pledge is clear: if we find the vaccine we will share it. That’s the pledge we all must make,” Morrison said.
Pope Francis told the United Nations on Friday that the poor and weakest members of society should get preferential treatment when a coronavirus vaccine is ready.
India, the world’s second most populous country after China, has recorded more than 5.8 million cases of COVID-19, second only behind the United States.
Its death toll as of this week was more than 90,000 and it has consistently reported the highest tally of daily cases anywhere in the world as a dense population and often rudimentary health care infrastructure hamper attempts to control the pandemic.