The government has stockpiled millions of PCR kits that are low in sensitivity and they may be incapable of identifying new variants that are spreading in Sri Lanka, President of the College of Medical Laboratory Science (CMLS), Ravi Kumudesh says.
Mr. Kumudesh said that out of the four variants, three had already spread in the country. However, there was still only one gene sequencing machine in the country to detect them.
He also said:
“Our inability to identify variants that are entering Sri Lanka has caused many issues. Another problem is that the PCR kits we are using might not be the best to detect new variants.
The Ministry of Health should pay attention to purchasing PCR Kits for Detecting COVID-19 Variants. However, it seemed to be bent on hoarding old fashioned low sensitivity PCR kits.
These kits are imported by a few powerful businessmen. The Health Ministry said it would stock 20 million PCR kits but it has not even asked those who actually do the testing what they want.
The laboratory services were facing a number of issues. There was a shortage of reagents and without them several the PCR testing machines were not functional.
Because of this the laboratory services have slowed down. On the other hand, a lot of samples come for analysis. There are issues with OT payments. Two weeks ago, we asked the President to appoint a technical committee to ensure that the laboratory service run smoothly. We have had no response. If something goes wrong, the blame should go to those who turned a blind eye to this.”