WHILE the nation comes to terms with the consistency of flip-flop decisions from Putrajaya, some attention will be given to Health Department director general Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah’s daily address on the Covid 19 situation before the nation’s press today.

In particular, will be the much anticipated arrival of 50,000 antigen rapid test kits from South Korea, two weeks after their initial date of arrival.

This initial batch will be distributed to Sabah and Sarawak, with another 100,000 units of the coveted antigenRTKs expected to arrive tomorrow, Noor Hisham was widely reported as stating. As per The Edge in the link below:

Whilst a growing number of front liners and medical practitioners began to raise concerns regarding the depleting supplies of personal protective equipment (PPE) and the scarcity of Covid 19 test kits be it antigen, antibody or polymerase chain reaction (PCR) based, the government has announced several plans that would stress further the demand for these items.

This includes the standard operating procedures of screening via 3,000 Socso panel clinics for thousands of employees in industrial sectors given exemption from the Movement Control Order (MCO) to resume full capacity operations this week and the Health Ministry’s own plans to intensify targeted testing.

However, we reported earlier of a possible glitch in the planning and procurement of the test kits, particularly from South Korea, where the only antigen rapid test kit approved by the Ministry of Health, SD Biosensor is produced, with an official linked to the main distributor stating it had ceased producing antigenRTKs since March 1.

The only antigen rapid test kit that the Ministry of Health is supposed to procure from South Korea, however, is the one produced by SD Biosensor and duly, the 50,000 kits arriving today, have to be of that brand.

The MOH list of approved test kits. Note that the SD Biosensor antigenRTK is the only one approved by the ministry.

The South Korean production line, according to our source, has been fully focused on production of antibodyRTKs and PCR test kits to meet demand the world over, particularly from the US and Europe. One need only to switch to CNN, Sky News or Deutsche Welle on TV to notice that antibody test kits are the main mode of testing for Covid 19.

Contrary to the Ministry of Health procurement strategy, the Malaysian Medical Association (MMA) had on April 24 stated in a circular notifying of their meeting with Socso on their Covid 19 test, which stated the first phase of screening of workers in high risk areas would undergo PCR rapid tests, while in the second phase it would utilise antibodyRTKs.

There is no mention of antigenRTKs, while the MMA also states that Socso (Perkeso) would “appoint a vendor in accordance with good procurement practice.”

This gives us something extra to look forward to from Noor Hisham today, apart from the daily updates on new cases, death toll and total recovered patients. With possibly some keen viewers all the way in South Korea too.