Reports surfaced yesterday that Belize had rejected as much as twenty-five thousand testing kits being offered from South Korea. According to a report on a local channel, there is a leaked memo that indicates that Belize is the only SICA country rejecting the offer of testing kits. It lends for speculation especially since Belize currently has an estimated seven hundred kits available. Dr. Marvin Manzanero says he is aware of the report that the ministry rejected the kits but it is not that clear cut. Here is how he explained it earlier today.
Dr.Marvin Manzanero, Director of Health Services: “The 24th of March is when we got an initial request for potential donation of kits, we were not sure whether they were testing kits or what kind of kits they were. We requested for further advice on the matter and they sent us the specifications of the kits that they could have donated to us. We understood it to be from the South Korean Government to the region. When that came about because we have to work with what the lab does we had said to the lab “Can you review the specification is this something we’re going to be able to work with.” and they had three basic concerns which is general compatibility of reagent components with the primers and probes – and I’m reading textually what is written- whether they were compatible with the enzymes that they were using, whether the tests had been validated in the region they said basically on advice from the various international forums or web discussions so that we are able to establish performance characteristics based on our population and the third concern because – again I had mentioned the issue of training- if any training or specialized knowledge was needed for preparation of master mixes is that going to be provided since the labs said they had no knowledge of this testing kit that was being given that we had gotten an initial note. Further to the note, and we have the PDF document that came with it, one of actually the testing kits it draws my attention it says from the same patent it says “We are waiting for the emergency usage authorization from the Korean CDC.” That’s what it says and then it also says that both test kits are still waiting for authorization from the US FDA for use so those are little footnotes that I think made us indicate to the respective ministry that was in communication with CABEI that what we were looking for is and we said the specific platform this is what we are using, this is where our staff has been trained because you understand that accepting test kits you have to find out if you have the equipment, you have the testing capability, whether those have been validated, whether we need any specific calibration measures for the machines that we use and even if we procure a new machine the maintenance capability in country.”
According to Dr. Manzanero, there have been multiple efforts in acquiring additional kits that are compatible with the knowledge and capacity of our local health officials and resources.
Dr.Marvin Manzanero, Director of Health Services: “The first trail of emails that we got in reference to this particular topic was on the 24th of March but if you go back to what we have been publishing on social media and where we have been in terms of procurement understand that we took training for health staff using a particular platform, a particular template from February through PAHO. We had gotten test kits for that particular platform, that particular template from PAHO and we had said to people who were willing to donate, people who were willing to pay for testing kits that this is what we were using because you understand that our lab at Central Medical Lab perhaps doesn’t have the same staff or other equipment that other labs in other bigger countries have so that’s the platform we were using. As is on the 18th of March when COMISCA had started asking what we wanted to procure through COMISCA – and you know COMISCA has a negotiation process for pool procurement for all Central American countries. From the 18th of March we had signaled to COMISCA that we were going to be interested particularly in the platform that we were using and we had requested 40 testing kits which would amount to approximately 4,000 individual tests. We had started the procurement of that and in one of our previous sessions two, three, four weeks ago we had gotten money for this to be paid partially through IDB, Rotary and Medical Associates had given us some money for the procurement of these test kits. Eventually they came back, COMISCA did, to say that they were not going to be in a position to – this needs to be part of the pool procurement. So on the 24th of March which is the same time we got an initial request from CABEI we had submitted our list to COMISCA ,and that’s a document that’s signed by my desk requesting, for other materials to accompany the testing kits which is extraction enzymes, swabs and other materials that are used in the testing kit because I think we need to understand that it’s not a simple testing kit, you need tubes, swabs, and also understand that the region is running low on swabs. That’s very important that we signal that because PAHO has indicated to us that before a new set of swabs to come in it’s perhaps going to take two or three weeks so you also have to bear that in mind.”
As it relates to other supplies, Love News understands that at least six ventilators arrived in the country yesterday.