The long-awaited chemical reagents for the Best Dos Santos Public Health Laboratory to fast-track COVID-19 testing have finally arrived and are being pressed into service without delay, Chief Medical Officer Dr Kenneth George revealed on Thursday.
The CMO is counting on the arrival to address a backlog of tests that has frustrated visitors and nationals alike.
Dr George said: “At this point in time, we are struggling on many fronts. One of our major struggles is the issue with lab reagents. Fortunately, the lab reagents arrived this afternoon so we could speed up the testing because we are testing too slowly. So we have gotten some good news that we have gotten some testing reagents and we are going to work to suit.”
Just over a week ago, Prime Minister Mia Mottley addressed the issue of the delay in returning test results which was blamed on the shortage of reagents.
She said: “We do and have had some challenges in the last four, five days with respect to test results and it is largely because the reagent for the automatic extraction and the RNA from the samples is not available.
“We would have received some from Guyana and we thank the Government of Guyana for that. We have been in negotiations through all of our embassies… but out there is like the Wild Wild West.”
She, however, said that test results would be made available, albeit slower.
Mottley said because of the high demand, the products had been extremely difficult to source.
She explained: “But let me say to you that the automatic extractor makes life easy. We have enough reagents for manual extraction but that is tiresome, time-consuming and now that I have seen what happens in the lab as well, it is also tiring on the eyes, so it’s going to take a lot longer even though we have tanto reagents for manual extraction.
“The lab ordered the reagents for the automatic extraction when we had more than tens of thousands in our supply and they ordered it as far back as September from the manufacturers and in spite of that, we have not received it in January.
“We are hopeful that we can try and get some, but the truth is that all kinds of persons are putting restrictions and quotas and all kinds of things in place because they too need it for their own countries and this is one of the difficulties that a small country such as ours will have because we are very often price takers as well as now product takers because we don’t have the size to determine or influence the market,” Mottley said.