Friday 14 October 2022

Testing times

Remember late 2021 and early 2022 when there were ... problems ... in getting RATs and when the government was requisitioning them?

Chris Bishop had been asking about one company's attempt to get RATs into the country

407 (2022). Chris Bishop to the Associate Minister of Health (08 Feb 2022): Regarding the rapid antigen tests from Kudu Spectrum for the "Orient Gene RAT", did Kudu Spectrum send a letter to the Government regarding rapid antigen tests in January 2022, if so, on what date was that letter received, who received the letter (by job title, if appropriate), and what did it say?

Hon Dr Ayesha Verrall (Associate Minister of Health) replied: I am advised the Ministry of Health has no record of receiving a letter from Kudu Spectrum in January 2022. However, two emails were received from Kudu Spectrum, on 4 and 12 January 2022. These emails related to Kudu Spectrum’s application for approval of the Orient Gene rapid antigen test which was subsequently authorised by the Director-General of Health on 20 January 2022.

This is also my response to Written Parliamentary Question 581 (2022).

He followed up with an OIA request for those emails and has passed it along. I'll copy it all below here, followed by the cover letter response.

Kudu Spectrum was trying to import Orient Gene Covid-19 RATs. They're ubiquitous now, but Medsafe was being Medsafe and slow. 

Emails into MoH weren't being dealt with properly or noticed. 

Kudu's first email, of 4 January, to Michelle Perera at MoH and to Ian Town, Chief Science Advisor at MoH, and to a redacted person, were initially ignored. It was summer. 

Kudu followed up on 12 January, noting they'd received no answer, and that they'd be seeking legal advice if they didn't get an answer - they wanted to bring in the tests because there were shortages of RATs and lots of businesses wanted them. 

On 13 January they were told that it was unlawful to import the tests until Medsafe got around to stamping the forms, which was expected to happen within two weeks. 

Lest we forget how crazy that period was. 

I've munged the email addresses of individuals in the correspondence chains here that they not be hassled because of the OIA release. 

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