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Vietnam scientists create COVID-19 test kit

Scientists from the Military Medical Academy and Viet A Corporation have successfully produced a new coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2) test kit, helping Vietnam to take the initiative in testing the disease.

Additionally, applications regarding medical declarations were developed by technology companies in just a few days, helping the authorities monitor the number of people entering and leaving Vietnam while managing suspected cases and quickly disseminating relevant information to people.

According to the Ministry of Science and Technology (MoST), this result is thanks to the accurate consultation of scientists in many fields, the timely order of the state to research and production units and urgent coordination amongst enforcement bodies.

To effectively combat the epidemic and implement Directive No. 13 of the Prime Minister, MoST worked with scientists on 17 March to carry out new research directions, a news report said.

Accordingly, besides the SARS-CoV-2 test kits, Vietnam now needs a quick screening kit for SARS-CoV-2.

Most COVID-19 infected cases show no symptoms or very mild symptoms, and these cases need screening tests. If Vietnam has rapid screening kits, the disease screening can be implemented widely in the community, helping to reduce isolation pressure and cost.

Based on the initial screening test, infected cases will be accurately re-diagnosed through diagnostic kits performed in the laboratory.

Domestic scientists should survey and order robot manufacturing enterprises to produce robots to assist doctors in the process of medical examination and treatment amid dangerous conditions and limited manpower. Robots can help with tasks such as cleaning, disinfecting patient rooms, measuring temperature, and delivering food and medicines to patients amongst others.

Apart from the vaccine research using protein technology that the Company for Vaccine and Biological Production (Vabiotech) is developing, scientists have proposed a new research direction regarding the production of a serum containing monoclonal antibodies for COVID-19 treatment, especially for severe cases which are vulnerable to virus attacks.

This is an important solution in the context of no specific medicines and vaccines being currently available for the disease. Vietnam is likely to develop this solution because it has approached and researched this technology to produce serums for the treatment of several diseases.

The urgent needs in this new period of prevention and control of the COVID-19 epidemic have been identified scientifically based on real conditions and feasibility.

However, management agencies need to streamline licensing procedures to serve research tasks and promote close coordination among ministries, sectors and agencies. MoST has assigned production of a quick screening kit for two units, but the research results have not been published.

The ministry should boost and support research on this area due to the urgent need for quick screening kits.

The research and production of serum for COVID-19 treatment should also be started immediately with the support of treatment facilities to provide samples for research because when the epidemic ends, research opportunities will be missed.

Vabiotech has collaborated with scientists in the UK to successfully make the genome for the vaccine, thus, authorised agencies need to facilitate licensing procedures to transport the virus strain to Vietnam to carry out assessments on animals and move to the next step.

Long-term investment should be poured into vaccines which is an effective preventive measure in case the disease occurs on a yearly cycle.

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