A reader, who requested anonymity, has written to talkedabout.org asking us to pose this question about the questionable dealings from procurement to the execution of Covid 19 mass testing in the country.

The reader attached a recent circular by the Master Builders Association of Malaysia (MBAM) notifying members to adhere to standard operating procedures (SOPs) for all employees to undertake screening through Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) rapid tests before being allowed to resume work.

The reader questions the cost, said to be on a ‘special offer’ by assigned test lab, the relevance of conducting only the more costly and tedious PCR tests instead of antibodyRTKs which are being utilised all over the world and lays out why all might not seem in order.


IS this another way to help crony labs?

Why must mass testing for workforce have to be done by RT-PCR method which is expensive and slow? The whole world now is using Antibody RTK to compliment RT-PCR as its quick and cheaper.

If Antibody RTK is used even twice within 7 days to get almost 100% accuracy it will not cost more RM140 for 2 tests. Obviously if those tested positive by RTK still need to be complimented with RT-PCR test but it would have save a of unnecessary cost, PPE, time and hassle.

Assume we target a workforce of 300 workers.

1) RT-PCR @ rm230 300×230= rm69,000

2)Antibody RTK @RM70

  • assume 1% of 300 (3 workers) has been infected or has symptoms. 1st RTK/PCR costing is
  • 300×70 + 3×230= RM21,690
  • 2nd test on 7th day.. assume now 3% infected (9 workers)
  • 297×70 + 9×230= RM22,860
    Total RTK/PCR cost = RM44,550

Benefits of RTK/PCR over PCR alone for 300 workers assuming infection rate 1-3%.

  • Cost saving of 35% 69000-44550 = RM24,450
  • Elimination and filtration for target PCR test can be done much faster (max 30min/worker) and requires no full PPE nor special trained doctor or staff.

Both have the same question being asked :
WHAT if a worker tested negative but got infected the following day?

– In Antibody RTK if a person is negative in 1st test, they may be positive in 2nd test if a person is already infected for more than 5-6 days. If a person gets infected 4-6 days after 1st test it is likely they will be still be positive in 2nd test.

  • With a PCR test, if it comes out negative, there is no way of discovering an infection after the test unless you continue to do PCR test when symptoms surface.

During the current Covid-19 Pandemic, time is of an essence to slow it down or flatten the curve. RT-PCR requires full PPE and lab tests of a minimum 24 to 48 hours to get the results whereas Antibody RTK requires no full PPE and test result can be revealed on site in 30 minutes.

Antibody RTK also serve as an effective compliment to the expensive and tedious RT-PCR test.

Medical experts should know and you can see very clearly in the news, the US, Europe all major nations battling the Covid 19 pandemic are using antibody RTKs.

Malaysia seems to be confused, from setting up RM30 million labs by construction companies, to ordering non-existent antigen RTK from Korea. Why can’t those in power just get their act together and form a unified line of attack on the Covid 19 pandemic?

We have the Ministry of Health (MOH) coming up with some SOPs and taking one direction, then MITI (Ministry of International Trade and Industry) comes up with another set of directions and everybody gets confused.

– (anonymous) NCO1