Gonoshasthaya Kendra will import raw materials from the United Kingdom for making kits to detect novel coronavirus.
The raw materials for the kit – Rapid Dot Blot – will reach Dhaka in a week, and samples of the testing kit will be submitted to the Directorate of Drug Administration within 15 days for approval, said Dr Zafrullah Chowdhury, founder of Gonoshasthaya Kendra.
"We will be able to supply at least 20,000 units of kits immediately a day after getting approval for sales," he told The Business Standard.
The Gonoshasthaya Kendra can provide a kit at Tk350. The test report will be available within 5 to 15 minutes.
"It will be possible for us to sell per kit at Tk200-250 if the government relaxes Tax and VAT on our import. We will sit with the government soon in this regard," Dr Zafrullah said.
"I am hopeful that there will be no crisis of kits if we can go into production," he said.
Major General Mahbubur Rahman, director general at the drug administration, said they would appreciate anyone who would like to help the government in tackling the coronavirus situation.
"We welcome Gonoshasthaya Kendra's initiative. We have permitted Gonoshasthaya Kendra to import raw materials to make coronavirus-detection kits," he added.
Zafrullah said, "We are always ready to serve the nation in any emergency. Assessing the possible spread of coronavirus across the country, we had begun research to produce kits for detecting coronavirus beforehand."
The raw materials for the kits, Rapid Dot Blot, is available in the United States, the UK, China and Switzerland.
"China helped us by giving raw materials for the research, but it denied to provide us for production. So, we have decided to import from the UK where the cost is also lower than in other countries," Dr Zafrullah said.
"We are proud of our doctors at Gonoshasthaya Kendra, especially for Dr Bijon Kumar Sil. This is Shil who invented kits for the detection of SARS virus which spread in China in 2003. He is our asset," he said.
He also claimed that the Gonoshasthaya Kendra has kit producing machines. Except it, only the International Centre for Diarrhoeal Disease Research, Bangladesh has a machine.
"The kit is costly as the machines are costly. But we can provide it at a low price," he said.
Conditions for selling kits
Major General Mahbubur Rahman, director general at the drug administration, told The Business Standard that firstly, the Gonoshasthaya Kendra would submit samples to the drug administration.
The administration will go to the laboratories of the Gonoshasthaya Kendra and observe its capacity.
The Drug administration will later send the samples to the World Health Organisation for its approval to sell. Finally, Gonoshasthaya Kendra will get permission to sell the kits in the market.