ISLAMABAD: Federal Minister for Science and Technology Fawad Chaudhry on Sunday said that Pakistan has developed indigenous Covid-19 diagnostic kits that have been approved by the Drug Regulatory Authority of Pakistan (DRAP) for commercial use and is likely to bring down the cost of coronavirus tests in the country.
“We were mostly importing Covid-19 test kits from China. Now our scientists have developed our own Polymerase Chain Reaction equipment,” he said in an interview with Arab News.
Chaudhry informed that the kits was developed by experts at the National University of Science and Technology (NUST) with more than 90 per cent accuracy, which was about 20 percent better than the imported tests.
“It is a totally domestic kit and will help us reduce our import bill,” he added. “Likewise, it will bring down the cost of Covid-19 tests to one third of what it is.”
The minister also sounded hopeful about developing domestic ventilators within the next few weeks since clinical trials of four machines have already entered their final phase.
“Once these trials are over, we will ask commercial entities to start manufacturing these ventilators. In most of the countries, including the United States, motor companies are manufacturing ventilators. Therefore, we are also bringing motor companies into it. I hope we will be able to produce more than 100 ventilators in the first three months,” he said.
Chaudhry informed that the Ministry of Science and Technology (MoST) had predicted that Pakistan would hit the Covid-19 peak in June.
“We are at the peak right now,” he continued. “However, it is hard to determine it in terms of numbers or duration since this virus spreads exponentially. Once it gets going, stopping it becomes quite difficult.”
The minister said the coronavirus pandemic would remain at its peak for more than two months in Pakistan.
“That is usually the time this virus takes to reach the peak,” he explained. “It will take about the same duration of two to three months to slow down the infection rate.”
When asked if a strict lockdown was the only way to control the spread of the virus, he reiterated his government’s position and maintained that smart lockdown was the only way forward.
“You cannot lock down the whole country for an indefinite period,” Chaudhry said. “It is a country of 220 million people. A complete lockdown will trigger the shortage of food and other necessary items, making life difficult for many people in a country like Pakistan.”