Reuters has just come out with a story on shortage of COVID-19 PCR test in low and middle income countries due to undersupply by Cepheid. Many low and middle income countries (LMICs) had invested, either directly or via donors, in 1000s of Cepheid's GeneXpert machine for testing of HIV, TB, Ebola and other infectious diseases which could have been used now for COVID-19 testing. Unfortunately, as company seek to prioritize selling this test to high income countries, these machines in LMICs remain idle. Please see a quote below from MSF in this regard:
Stijn Deborggraeve, Diagnostics Advisor, MSF Access Campaign
“It is outrageous that despite global calls for solidarity in the face of COVID-19, Cepheid continues pandemic profiteering by charging even low- and middle-income countries exorbitant prices for its COVID-19 test cartridges and prioritising supply to wealthy nations. This is a slap in the face for low- and middle-income countries, who have invested for a decade in Cepheid’s instruments for the diagnosis of tuberculosis and other diseases but now their GeneXpert machines lay empty, awaiting COVID-19 test cartridges that Cepheid prefers to sell to high-income countries.
Right now, every idle machine and every missing cartridge is a missed opportunity to diagnose people with COVID-19. So many lives could be saved if Cepheid made its test available and affordable in all countries.”
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