The National Technical Advisory Committee (NTAC) suggested the government on Thursday to conduct three types of tests - PCR, antigen and antibody - simultaneously for better containment of the Covid-19 pandemic.
The committee also said all the countries are in a race to get vaccine, and many of them have already deposited money for it. They feared that the vaccine, expected to come through the Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunisation (GAVI), will be delayed. So, Bangladesh needs to deposit booking money to get vaccine quickly (from other sources).
They termed the present number of Covid-19 tests low, and suggested that more patients can be detected by increasing number of tests.
The NTAC said these in a media statement after holding its 19th virtual meeting on Thursday. Committee Chairman Professor Dr Md Shahidullah chaired the meeting.
Besides, the NTAC opined that time has come to work on serosurveillance by introducing antibody test.
The government has agreed in principle to introduce antigen test in the areas where PCR test is not available. But, the committee expressed caution regarding the test kit, as the World Health Organisation (WHO) has not yet approved the antigen kit.
A guideline and implementation plan on antigen and antibody test is at final stage of approval. Some plans on antigen test have been submitted primarily for those places, where there is no PCR test facility, and in the specialised hospitals.
The process of scrutinising and selection of antigen test kit is going on. Conducting three types of tests simultaneously will play a vital role in fighting the Covid-19 pandemic here, it noted.
The committee suggested that factors behind the decrease in number of tests should be found out to increase the number and get a clear picture of the situation in order to fight the global pandemic.
The NTAC also advised the government to create more awareness among people to increase test, display sample collection booths in open places, and improve test standard and sample collection quality.
It opined that auto-extraction method can be introduced to complete tests faster.
The technical committee also proposed to hold a joint meeting with the laboratory sub-committee under the Directorate General of Health Services (DGHS) to expedite implementation of these proposals.
The NTAC praised the government's efforts to get Covid-19 vaccine in the shortest possible time. But they suggested to keep an eye on some issues in getting vaccine: payment of advance booking money by Bangladesh like many other countries, arranging cold chain for some vaccines which are presently absent, working with several vaccine sources - specially the governments of those countries which are involved in producing vaccines, administering vaccine institutionally and preparing a vaccine deployment plan.
There should also be follow-up of adverse impact of vaccine after administering, involving NITAG and NTAC representatives in the vaccine committee, and engaging the institutions those are experienced in vaccine trial - Institute of Epidemiology, Disease Control and Research (IEDCR) and Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujib Medical University (BSMMU) - in the trial process with ICDDR,B.