Health official defends quality of antigen test kits, acknowledges shortcomings

PHOTO: Wikimedia

The head of the Department of Medical Sciences has defended the quality of Lepu antigen test kits, while acknowledging their limitations. The Bangkok Post reports that Dr Supakit Sirilak was responding to complaints that the kits are less accurate and generate false Covid-19 results. Supakit says the kits are not as reliable as PCR testing in which samples are analysed in a laboratory setting, but adds that incorrect results from antigen test kits is not a reflection on the quality of the kits.

Supakit goes on to say that ATKs can give a wrong test result for several reasons, including if people use it while they have the flu or if they ignore the instructions for use. His comments follow reports that the public health chief in the southern province of Nakhon Si Thammarat has suspended home use of the Lepu kits due to the high number of false negatives returned.

The Bangkok Post reports that the province carried out a test in which it compared PCR testing and testing with Lepu ATK in 392 cases. In the experiment, 223 negative cases were reported through PCR testing, whereas ATK testing only returned 122 negative results.

It’s not the first time the kits have been called into question, with the Rural Doctors Society previously voicing concerns about their accuracy. The RDS has urged the government to stop using the kits but the call appears to have fallen on deaf ears.

In related news, Supakit says his department will increase whole-genome sequencing tests by at least 450 cases a week. The department is currently reporting findings to the Global Initiative on Sharing Avian Influenza Data (GISAID) database on a weekly basis. However, the UK has expressed concerns that the information being provided by Thailand is insufficient. Supakit says his department will also examine potential new strains by carrying out tests on a further 372 cases a week.

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SOURCE: Bangkok Post

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Maya Taylor

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