Spanish – At the National Institute of Hygiene (INH) in Venezuela, there are few reagents left for the coronavirus (COVID-19). According to sources at the agency, only about 400 samples are left, and about 1,500 are waiting for results.
On Tuesday, April 28, Nicolás Maduro claimed that Venezuela “has no new infections.” Although he was boasting about it, the real reason is that tests are being carried out selectively because of the shortage of reagents.
“We don’t have new infections because we are not doing the same amount of testing as we did weeks ago, and that diminishes our ability to find infected patients,” an INH source said.
Until last week, the staff processed about 400 tests a day by working 24-hour shifts. However, they have been running out of reagents. So the few that remain are used only on patients who are critical or show symptoms of the virus.
“As there are few tests left, only those in hospitals with severe symptoms or those sent by the government are being tested,” the source said.
“There are only a few reagents left today. They will last for only about 300-400 samples. A shipment from abroad of some 55 boxes of reagents was expected to arrive last Thursday, but so far, they have not arrived in the country,” said an INH source.
Venezuela’s National Institute of Hygiene is the only body responsible for processing coronavirus confirmatory tests (PCR). The official figures provided by the regime regarding the disease come from here.
The unavailability of reagents is also causing a delay in the evaluation of approximately 1,000 tests that would have come from the Venezuelan border. So the results are not yet known.
“A few weeks ago, a wave of approximately 2,000 samples arrived from the border, and they were all tested. The second wave of 1,000 also arrived from the border recently and has not been processed due to lack of reagents,” the source said.
“There are approximately 400 tests left, which is equivalent to 400 patients. The 1,000 samples from the state of Táchira, plus the ones coming from the different states, all those samples are paralyzed,” he said.
The source, who asked to remain anonymous to avoid retaliation from the regime, said Maduro’s numbers of positive cases of the coronavirus are true, but confirmed that he is lying about the number of tests “unless the regime also counts the rapid tests that are not reliable.”
“So far, only approximately 8,000 samples have been processed, of which 329 were positive. The regime has not lied about these figures, but it has lied about the number of tests performed,” he said.
The worrying aspect of the situation is that delay in testing also implies a delay in diagnosis. Hence, the numbers remain low since no tests mean no results either.
Additionally, INH workers also complained that the personnel who work up to 24 hours do not have an optimal transportation service to fulfill their working hours, especially because the quarantine and the shortage of gasoline prevent mobilization.