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PM’s order could sink controversial deal for Chinese ATKs

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The Government Pharmaceutical Organisation (GPO)’s deal for Chinese-made rapid antigen test kits (ATKs) came under question on Wednesday when PM Prayut Chan-o-cha insisted all ATKs purchased by Thailand must be certified by the World Health Organisation (WHO).

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The order threatens to disrupt the GPO’s purchase of 8.5 million ATKs manufactured by Beijing-based Lepu Medical Technology. The Lepu ATKs are not certified by the WHO and have been banned by the United States over concerns about their accuracy.

Ostland Capital won the bidding last week to supply the ATKs, offering each set at 70 baht in a contract worth 1.014 billion baht.

Earlier this week, the Rural Doctors urged the prime minister to halt the purchase, citing concerns about the quality of the Lepu test kits. The GPO countered that the Lepu ATKs had been approved by the Thai Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

Prayut on Wednesday ordered health agencies to speed up procurement of ATKs that met both Thai FDA and WHO standards.

The PM also instructed the Public Health Emergency Operation Centre and related agencies to urgently solve problems regarding vaccine procurement, community testing, and delays in getting infected people into the treatment system.

Published : August 18, 2021

By : The Nation