Home COVID-19 tests controversial in Jordan

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AMMAN — To cope with the rapid increase in the number of COVID-19 infections, many countries resorted to allowing citizens to purchase a home test for the virus from pharmacies.اضافة اعلان

President of the Jordan Pharmacists Association Zaid Kilani said he had asked the Ministry of Health to allow pharmacies to sell the test to citizens, but the request has not been approved yet.

Kilani told Jordan News that pharmacies in most countries provide at-home test kits for ease of use and speedy results, and that they would be very useful as the symptoms of COVID- are very similar to those of influenza.

“Unfortunately, Jordan is probably the only country that does not allow this test to be sold directly to citizens yet,” despite providing it to companies, factories, schools, and institutions that employ large numbers of people, Kilani said. He added that the test kit, which is licensed by the Jordan Food and Drug Administration, is available in sufficient quantities in Jordan and is 98 percent accurate.

The decision to not allow pharmacies to sell the test to citizens is “illogical and should not be allowed to continue at the current stage”, Kilani said, adding that many citizens are buying it through companies, “yet pharmacies are still not allowed to sell it”.

Because of the speed with which the result comes out and its high accuracy, the home test option is most feasible and may protect citizens of all ages, said Kilani, stressing that it is the right of the citizen to obtain the result of a COVID-19 test the soonest possible and at the lowest cost as well.

At the same time, Kilani said that the home test does not replace the PCR test entirely, and that citizens should have a PCR test done if the result of the home test is positive, and thus get an official excuse to be absent from work or school.

“The home test is a legal medical product, and as any medical product, it should be allowed to be sold in pharmacies, so no party has the right to violate this law,” he said, adding that while there is no ruling preventing the sale of these tests, there is no decision allowing its sale either.

Secretary-General of the Ministry of Health for Epidemiological Affairs Adel Al-Balbisi told Jordan News that the ministry needs to keep tabs on the number of positive cases, and “if a citizen tests positive at home, he might choose not to isolate himself or report his condition to the Ministry of Health, which keeps track of the cases and deals with them.” This, Balbisi said, is bound to contribute to increasing the spread the virus.

If pharmacies are to sell the test kit, said, they should have a mechanism to monitor the results of citizens who resort to home testing in order to be able to inform the Ministry of Health of the results, for the proper procedures to be taken.

Kilani’s take on this is that citizens who have some symptoms might believe it is a simple flu, in the absence of a COVID-19 test, whereas if a home test were available, it would be easier for them to do a quick test without worrying about having to wait for long hours to do so.

At the same time, Kilani believes that a minority of citizens may not isolate if they are infected, while the great majority cares about the health of their families and those around them, and would not endanger them.

The goal of undergoing tests and treatment is to maintain the general health of the population, not to keep statistics and record numbers, said Kilani, adding that “for the first time, Jordan is behind in this matter, and we have to correct that”.

Kilani was quoted by Jo24 as having said that insurance companies started to cover the expenses of coronavirus drugs, and that sufficient quantities of antiviral drugs, which are sometimes used to treat COVID-19, have been imported. At the same time, there are two companies that manufacture the medicine locally and supply it to the public sector.

Kilani pointed out that the price of treatment is still somewhat high, given the fact that modern technology goes into their production and that usually any new treatment has a higher price tag, stressing that pricing is the responsibility of the Jordan Food and Drug Administration.

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