Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha has reversed his previous order specifying that only COVID-19 antigen test kits (ATK) approved by the World Health Organisation (WHO) may be imported.
Apparently aimed at ending a dispute between the Government Pharmaceutical Organisation (GPO) and the Rural Doctor Society (RDS) over a plan to procure 8.5 million ATKs for mass testing, Gen Prayut last week ordered that only WHO-certified ATKs be purchased.
However, after new information emerged that WHO has not yet approved any home-use ATKs, Gen Chan-o-cha rescinded his order during the weekly cabinet meeting yesterday, said an informed source.
The PM instead ordered the Public Health Ministry to accelerate the ATK purchase and try its very best to resolve any hindrances that may arise in procurement efforts, said the source. Deputy government spokeswoman Traisuree Taisaranakul, later in the day, confirmed the change.
Ostland Capital and World Medical Alliance recently won the bid organised by the GPO to supply 8.5 million Chinese-made ATK sets from Lepu Medical Technology.
The signing of the contract, however, has yet to proceed following criticism from the RDS about the quality of the ATKs. The RDS, meanwhile, vowed to closely monitor the ATK procurement.
Also yesterday, an announcement by the Pharmacy Council of Thailand, dated 20th August, which provides a guideline for distribution of ATKs and medication for COVID-19 treatment at home, was published in the Royal Gazette.
The council said pharmacists working at pharmacies across the countries must take a role in improving public access to ATKs. They should also offer people advice on how to use ATKs and help out with distributing necessary drugs to those who go into home isolation after testing positive for COVID-19 with little or no symptoms.
Pharmacists will also take part in the government’s COVID-19 home care programme by regularly following up on the conditions of COVID-19 sufferers and assisting with the transfer of those who require hospitalisation later.