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Coronavirus (Covid-19)

GPO to sell ATKs at 35 baht amid increased testing demand

Neill Fronde

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PHOTO: The GPO is working to make cheap ATKs available as demands for Covid-19 testing increases. (via Flickr Marco Verch)

The Government Pharmaceutical Organisation is working to make available millions of cheap antigen test kits as some areas in the country are reporting shortages amid Covid-19 infection surges and Omicron fears. The GPO just announced a deal to sell 3.5 million ATKs at 35 baht per kit, the lowest price seen in Thailand.

A new deal signed by the GPO would begin receiving 1 million kits per week after they purchased an initial 3.5 million ATKs. The government organization which has managed the import of vaccines and other pandemic medical supplies as the middleman between authorities and private hospitals and organizations is now setting its sights on making affordable testing available across Thailand.

The GPO already has plans in action to sign another contract to obtain 5 million more ATKs at an even lower price. They have already stockpiled 3 million antigen test kits in the standard nasal swab format and they’re looking to obtain a supply of alternate test kits that use saliva samples.

They have vowed to sell all the kits they procure at cost to the public. Kits will be made available at GPO drug stores or at www.GPOplanet.com for direct purchase.

The managing director of the GPO said that there are already over 100 companies that have been licensed to import ATKs into Thailand. This helps as it allows them to go to the suppliers that have already imported the test kits and strike deals for quick delivery without having to go through any importing approval and process.

Meanwhile, as the fast-spreading Omicron variant tears through Thailand, the demand for testing has increased and some areas are reporting testing scarcity. In Koh Samui, ATKs that were plentiful last week are now a challenge to find. It was announced that 7-11 would be carrying tests for around 50 baht, but employees at several local outlets told The Thaiger that they had sold out of their supplies quickly and had no intention of reordering. Several local pharmacies reported that they did not know of any pharmacy anywhere on the island that had Covid-19 tests in stock.

Many have complained that they are unable to get RT-PCR test appointments before their flights home at the end of their holiday. Early January is one of the busiest travel times in the world as people finish their winter and Christmas holidays and return home and frustrated travellers assert that facilities should have been more prepared for a surge in demand. One local clinic responded to complaints on Facebook saying that they had hired several additional staff and were working until midnight each night to try to keep up with the demand.

SOURCE: MCOT

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    Neill is a journalist from the United States with 10 years broadcasting experience and national news and magazine publications. He graduated with a degree in journalism and communications from the University of California and has been living in Thailand since 2014.

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