A number of countries have placed orders for COVID-19 test kits produced by Viet Nam, according to Deputy Minister of Science and Technology Phạm Công Tác.
Speaking at a working session between representatives from the Ministry of Science and Technology and the Ministry of Health (MoH) in Hà Nội on Tuesday, Tác said Việt Nam is one of the few countries in the world producing SARS-CoV-2 test kits.
The test kits, which were developed by the Military Medical University and Việt Á Corporation, and have been approved by the MoH, can detect the novel coronavirus in specimens of droplets obtained from the respiratory tract and blood samples.
The timescale for results including the preparation time for the specimen is two hours.
Việt Nam is able to make dozens of test kits per day at a cost of about VNĐ500,000 (US$21.5) for a single test.
Even if the COVID-19 pandemic worsens, the country can rely on its own kits, Tác said, adding that local scientists have made great contributions to disease control.
Phan Quốc Việt, director of Việt Á Corporation said more than 10 countries, including Belgium, Australia, Poland, Ukraine, Ireland and Turkey have expressed interest in purchasing the products.
Hà Nội’s authorities have ordered 4,000 kits for their own use and to present to hospitals in Italy – which is one of Europe’s biggest hotspot for COVID-19, he said.
Other Vietnamese scientists are also developing test kits for SARS-CoV-2.
Notably, the National Institute for Hygiene and Epidemiology (NIHE) said it was evaluating test kits developed by the Hà Nội University of Science and Technology.
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These kits use simple thermal blocks, instead of using real-time PCR machines. With the production cost of less than VNĐ2 million ($86), it is expected to help save money and human resources in the process of testing.
NIHE is assisting the university in assessing and providing scientific evidence, thus helping researchers complete their work.
More testing centres
The Ministry of Health has allowed more hospitals and centres to conduct tests for SARS-Cov-2.
They are the Centre for Disease Control and Prevention in the Mekong Delta city of Can Tho, the Children’s Hospital No 1 in HCM City and Phú Thọ Provincial General Hospital.
Earlier, the HCM City Pasteur Institute conducted an inspection on the Can Tho centre to ensure it has sufficient capacity and ability to conduct tests of the virus.
The tests in the Cần Thơ centre will help shorten the time for detection and implementation of preventive measures in the Mekong Delta region. In the past, the centre had to send samples to the HCM City Pasteur Institute for testing, and results took at least one day.
The country currently has 30 facilities capable of doing the COVID-19 test including the National Institute for Hygiene and Epidemiology, Bạch Mai Hospital, Việt Nam National Children’s Hospital in Hà Nội, Pasteur institutes in HCM City and Nha Trang, Central Highland Institute for Hygiene and Epidemiology, Hospital for Tropical Diseases and Chợ Rẫy Hospital in HCM City, and centres for disease control and prevention in the provinces of Quảng Ninh, Thanh Hóa, Bắc Ninh and in Hà Nội and Đà Nẵng cities.