No health institution in US using Turkish coronavirus detection kits, doctor says

Despite Turkish Health Minister Fahrettin Koca's statement that 500,000 locally-manufactured coronavirus test kits have been exported to the U.S., Turkish surgeon Ergin Koçyıldırım said there was not a single health institution in the country using these tests for diagnostic purposes. The surgeon said he had consulted the country's two main public health institutions responsible for protecting the nation's health regarding this issue -- the CDC and FDA.

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In an open letter addressing Turkish Health Minister Fahrettin Koca, a U.S.-based Turkish doctor has asked about the fate of coronavirus test kits which Turkey has sent to the United States.

Ergin Koçyıldırım, a pediatric surgeon and academic at the University of Pittsburg, said that among the test kits used in the country's health institutions to diagnose patients, none had been sent by Turkey.

Koçyıldırım's statement came after Minister Koca said on March 19 that Turkey had sent locally-manufactured 500,000 coronavirus test kits to the U.S.

“Utilizing the U.S. Freedom of Information Act, I have consulted about this issue to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), which are the top official authorities regarding this matter. According to the information I have received from these institutions, currently among the Covid-19 diagnostic test kits used in the U.S., there is none which arrived from Turkey,” Koçyıldırım wrote in his letter.

The surgeon said that only the test kits which received the FDA approval can be used to diagnose patients in the U.S. and among the kits that got a green light from the FDA, none had been sent by Turkey.

“America is a country of opportunities. There are a countless number of entrepreneurs from every nation and countless number of people whose minds are working in different ways in America. Someone could have seen an opportunity in these kits [sent by Turkey] and could have purchased them maybe to sell them on the internet in the future,” Koçyıldırım said.

“500,000 is a good inventory number. Or, a lab could have purchased these kits to use in various research experiments. 500,000 is a very big number for this also. You are the ones who have the information on who purchased these kits and for which purpose. It is not possible for us to know this,” he wrote.

Koçyıldırım asks Koca why 500,000 kits were exported to US amid shortage

The surgeon also asked Koca why 500,000 test kits had been exported to the U.S., while Turkey is currently in a situation of importing thousands of kits itself. Koca announced during a press meeting that 50,000 test kits had arrived in Turkey from China on March 24 and on March 26, some 300,000 additional kits would arrive in the country.

“What I am worried about is why 500,000 test kits have been sold from the inventory [of Turkey], when thousands of rapid testing kits are being purchased, with a fee, from China and Vietnam. It is not possible to understand this as a doctor,” he wrote.