Thailand’s Ministry of Public Health today, July 11th, has approved, in principle, the public purchase of a Covid-19 “Rapid Antigen Test” at clinics and pharmacies for residents in Bangkok in the near future. However, some final meetings are scheduled to take place tomorrow, July 12th, to flesh out details and finalize the decision.
Public Health Minister Anutin Charnvirakul told the Associated Press that the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has already approved the use of the Rapid Antigen Test in all hospitals, both public and private, primary health services, the Bangkok Public Health Service Center, and community clinics to test for a Rapid Antigen Test to Covid-19 PUI patients (PUI: Patient Under Investigation), who are reported with suspicious symptoms or considered as at-risk groups.
This is to reduce hospitals’ burden to only conduct RT-PCR tests against visitors, which are taking a long time to diagnose, and allow them to test and know their results at home, according to the FDA.
The Rapid Antigen Test Kit, manufactured by 24 certified companies from the FDA, will be available, in theory, for the public to purchase at general clinics and pharmacies from early this week onwards at the price of 300-400 baht per set.
Dr. Paisan Dankhum, Secretary-General of the Food and Drug Administration, spoke about the approval today, July 11th, and cautioned that a further announcement in the Royal Gazette is still needed and that some steps may need to be taken before the tests are available to the market but that they would expedite this as quickly as possible. He also noted that positive tests with a Rapid Antigen Test will need a secondary RT-PCR test to confirm an infection.
Dr. Paisan also noted that there is a meeting of the National Communicable Disease Committee scheduled for tomorrow, July 12th, that should address the Rapid Antigen issue and develop guidelines and rules for the usage of the tests, stressing that people would need to use them correctly. This meeting is set to finalize the decision, although as always, plans could change.
TPN media notes that supplies due to demand could be limited and interested consumers should check with their clinic or pharmacy of choice well in advance. It is unlikely to be available immediately based on comments made by Dr. Paisan, but should be in the near future IF given final approval.
At least at first, the tests will only be available in the Bangkok area to the public, which means residents of other areas (like Chonburi) would not be able to purchase them locally, according to Dr. Paisan.
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