From a less effective vaccine to a questionable Antigen Test Kit (ATK): Galactic incompetence? Shameless hanky panky? Both?
These are questions, not an indictment, because other than the penchant for spraying rubber bullets, the government also has a penchant for filing charges against news that doesn’t make them happy.
Here’s the story.
The National Health Security Office (NHSO) negotiated ATKs from two companies, both approved by the World Health Organization (WHO).
According to Doctor Kriangsak Vatcharanukulkiat, who chairs the project, the negotiated prices were 120 baht and 140 baht, delivery included.
NHSO budgeted 1.014 million baht for 8.5 million kits.
However, due to regulations, NHSO can’t purchase the kits directly. Instead, it has to request Rajaviti Hospital, which then has to request the Government Pharmaceutical Organization (GPO).
Already, the bureaucratic hurdles are maddening.
According to Doctor Kriangsak, NHSO learned from insiders that GPO planned to buy 200 baht per kit, including 40 baht delivery.
Why not the already WHO-approved, negotiated brands? It’s mind-boggling.
With those fishy numbers, NHSO put a brake on it.
GPO then switched plans to opening an auction bid for the ATKs. Ostland Captial won the bid at a discounted midnight sales price of 70 baht per kit.
But Ostland provides ATKs from China’s Lepu Medical Technology. The United States Food & Drug Administration (FDA) recently rejected Lepu’s ATKs due to “potential risks of false results.” It implemented “Class I Recall,” the most serious type of recall.
Thailand’s Rural Doctor Society (RDS) statement said ATKs must meet WHO’s standard rather than the lowest price.
As usual, social media exploded.
Due to controversies, GPO temporarily halted the process and, of course, said it did everything by the book, denied any incompetence or hanky panky.
So, as things stand, Thailand still suffers test kits shortage, along with mRNA vaccine shortage, hospital beds shortage, and a host of other shortages.
All of which stem from a shortage of ethics and brain cells.