Demand for antigen test kits soaring


A shopper at a drug store in Bangkok's Saphan Mai registers to buy Covid-19 self-test kits. (Photo: Arnun Chonmahatrakool)
A shopper at a drug store in Bangkok’s Saphan Mai registers to buy Covid-19 self-test kits. (Photo: Arnun Chonmahatrakool)

Demand for rapid antigen test kits is soaring in the industrial sector as more than 1,000 factories need to conduct Covid-19 tests on their workers to contain the virus spread, says the Federation of Thai Industries (FTI).

Earlier the FTI sent 100,000 antigen test kits to factories, but more are needed as entrepreneurs take strict precautions to prevent disease transmission in factories.

The demand from 1,000 factories is based on the federation’s latest survey across the country.

“FTI has more than 10,000 member factories and most of them surveyed said they want antigen test kits,” said Kriengkrai Thiennukul, vice-chairman of the FTI.

Demand is increasing because factory owners have adopted a strict approach, conducting Covid-19 tests as a requirement before workers can start shifts.

“Many factories test and they find infected workers every Monday,” said Mr Kriengkrai.

“Some factories that are concerned about contamination in their products even use the test kits every day.”

Entrepreneurs are worried about new Covid-19 infection clusters in their factories stopping manufacturing and affecting their exports, he said.

The FTI is in talks with antigen test kit makers to buy more testing equipment.

“We expect to buy them at lower prices than those under the government’s purchasing plan, but we still want high quality,” said Mr Kriengkrai.

The test kits used in factories have a price range of 100-200 baht per item, which is cheaper than those sold to the general public at 350-450 baht per kit.

He wants the government to allow the import of test kits without the need to make the purchase through the Government Pharmaceutical Organization.

“The FTI is allowed by the authorities to bend the rules to import the test kits, but this is not legitimate,” said Mr Kriengkrai.

“We want to follow the rules to ensure transparency.”



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