ISLAMABAD: The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) is going to provide Pakistan with a polymerase chain reaction (PCR) machine, biohazard safety cabinets and test kits to support the country’s coronavirus response, the Foreign Office confirmed on Friday.
“The provision of this equipment will augment Pakistan’s national capacity to conduct COVID-19 tests which are crucial in containing the spread of the disease,” the Foreign Office said in a statement.
Real time reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction (real time RT-PCR) is a nuclear-derived method for detecting the presence of specific genetic material from any pathogen, including a virus, according to IAEA’s educational materials released by its office of public information.
Pakistan’s coronavirus testing capacity is still inadequate, as the country of 210 million conducts only 800 tests a day. While Planning and Development Minister Asad Umar said on Monday that the government seeks to increase the number of tests conducted to 25,000 a day by the end of April, IAEA’s support should streamline the effort.
The real time RT-PCR technique is sensitive and specific and can deliver a reliable diagnosis within three hours. Compared with other methods, it has a lower potential for errors and according to IAEA, it is the most accurate method available for detection of the coronavirus.
The Pakistani embassy in Vienna, where IAEA’s headquarters are located, is in touch with the agency for the equipment’s early shipment to the country, the Foreign Office said, expressing gratitude for IAEA’s efforts to fight the COVID-19 pandemic.