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
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.
“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.