Pakistan gets 1 million Covid antigen rapid test kits from US

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The United States, through its Agency for International Development (USAID) has provided one million Covid-19 antigen rapid diagnostic tests (RDTs) to Pakistan to help efficient diagnosis of Covid-19 and enable the country to respond to urgent health needs.

These new rapid diagnostic tests detect infection in minutes and greatly enhance real-time monitoring, enabling health officials to quickly identify hotspots of infection.

Having access to quick and accurate testing will allow Pakistan’s National Command Operation Centre (NCOC) and the federal health ministry to further mitigate the spread of Covid-19, especially in remote locations and at border crossings.

The donation was formally received by Special Assistant to Prime Minister Dr Faisal Sultan in a ceremony in Islamabad. In his remarks on the occasion, he said: “We are thankful to the USAID for donating these rapid antigen tests.”

He also recalled that “this effort is a reflection of the warm relations between the two countries”.

USAID Mission Director Julie A Koenen said, “These rapid test kits will help Pakistan to more quickly detect and diagnose the coronavirus, enabling the government to adjust its strategy to curb the spread of Covid-19.”

This donation delivers on President Biden’s promise to stand with the people of Pakistan in the fight against the Covid-19 pandemic, she added.

According to an official statement issued by the USAID, since the start of the outbreak in early 2020, the USAID has been working to save lives and contain the pandemic in more than 120 countries, including Pakistan.

“The USAID’s ongoing assistance provides emergency relief, strengthens health systems, supports vaccine readiness and distribution, improves public health education, and protects health care workers and facilities,” it added.

The US government, according to the press release, has allocated more than $40 million to Pakistan for Covid-19 response assistance, including a donation of 200 ventilators to care for Covid-19 patients, personal protective equipment and pulse oximetres.

“This support has benefited Pakistanis across the country, providing life-saving treatments, strengthening case-finding and surveillance, and mobilising innovative financing to bolster emergency preparedness,” it added.

“USAID’s assistance also includes a $2 billion contribution to Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, to support the purchase and delivery of Covid-19 vaccines to 92 low- and middle-income countries, with another $2 billion commitment planned by 2022. “

The press release said that the contribution to Gavi’s Covid-19 Vaccines Global Access, also known as COVAX, is supporting equitable access to Covid-19 vaccines for the world’s most vulnerable and at-risk populations, including frontline health care workers.

Pakistan has also received 5.5 million doses of the Moderna vaccine as part of that COVAX effort, it added.

Separately, the United States has pledged $4 billion to support COVAX, making the United States the single largest contributor to global Covid-19 vaccine access.

“Pakistan has received 2.4 million doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine since May as part of the COVAX effort,” USAID further said.

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