Vietnam’s Ministry of Health has decided to use domestically-made Covid-19 test kits for screening incoming passengers as the country reopens international air routes, VnExpress reported, citing Deputy Minister of Health Nguyen Truong Son.
Since September 15, Vietnam has resumed flights to China, Japan, South Korea, Cambodia and Laos. It is estimated that Vietnam would monthly welcome 20,000 passengers who must quarantined and tested at least twice.
The test kits used at Vietnam's airports can detect pathogenic viruses at the time of testing and confirm whether the passengers are infected or not.
Currently, Vietnam’s biggest supplier is Viet A Technologies JSC that can make 100,000 kits per day and quintuple its capacity if necessary. The company supplied 90% of coronavirus test kits in Vietnam’s latest two waves of Covid-19 outbreak.
|Vietnam's test kits have been ordered by more than 20 countries. Photo: VNA|
Viet A Technologies' Deputy General Director Vu Dinh Hiep said that the company is stockpiling more than one million test kits in anticipation of increasing demand for coronavirus testing.
Hiep affirmed that the company will provide enough test kits for PCR laboratories at airports in Vietnam. It takes some 2-3 hours to give test results.
Besides Viet A Technologies, other three units that are researching coronavirus test kits are Medicon, Sao Thai Duong and the National Institute of Hygiene and Epidemiology.
Director of Medicon Dao Dinh Khoi said that his company is urgently researching and producing quick antigen detection kits to ensure quality of coronavirus testing at the airports.
The test kits produced by Medicon has the same sensitivity and specificity with the PCR method. The cost is expected to be about US$3.5 per kit, 30% cheaper than the imported ones. Currently, the kits are still in pre-clinical research before being launched to the market, according to Khoi.
"No later than October will Medicon start registering this type of test kit," Khoi said, adding that Medicon has prepared raw materials to produce the first 500,000 test kits when it is licensed. The company can produce between 50,000 and 100,000 test kits per day.
Deputy General Director of Sao Thai Duong JSC Nguyen Thi Huong Lien said that her company is also researching the test kits of Realtime-LAMP. This type of fast antigen test has the same specificity and sensitivity as the PCR test but requires shorter time, taking advantage of the available machines and equipment of the preventive medicine centers, thus the testing capacity can be be raised by 9-12 times.
Vietnam, despite its lower middle-income status, has been able to produce coronavirus test kits because of its broad experience with researching and treating tropical and infectious diseases.
In mid-April, Vietnam’s test kits attained approval from both the WHO and the UK, which gives the kits a laissez-passer to the vast European market.
The quality of Vietnam’s test kits has been evaluated to be on par with that of WHO kits. As locally made products, they offer other advantages including specificity, stability, and compatibility with multiple types of testing equipment.
Vietnam is one of five nations to have the kits ready for export and has received orders from 20 nations. The first batches of test kits will be shipped to Iran, Finland, Malaysia and Ukraine, according to the Ho Chi Minh City Customs Office.