There’s an old saying that makes the rounds now and again, with various attributions. “First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win.”
I wonder how this one is going to end for Rako Science. I desperately hope it ends well. If it does not, it will be an utter travesty of justice.
The Initiative has long been keen on better Covid testing methods. They featured again in my report, released this week.
The University of Illinois’s SHIELD protocol saliva-based PCR testing rolled out very successfully in August 2020.
By late 2020, Rako Science had brought it here, under licence. By January, Rako was providing accurate and rapid PCR testing for private clients under contract, with a test validated to ISO15189 standard.
Rako had offered its testing services to the Ministry of Health in December 2020.
First they ignored Rako.
When Rako’s deployment spread through early 2021, the Director General of Health made erroneous statements, perhaps through simple mistake, at 1pm briefings about the accuracy of saliva-based PCR testing.
Then they laughed at Rako.
When it became increasingly obvious that it was impossible to scale up nasal swab-based testing in any practicable way, the Ministry of Health set a procurement process for saliva-based PCR testing. That process is the subject of a complaint by Winston Peters to the Auditor General.
And, for months, according to Rako, the Ministry ignored or denied requests from Rako to link Rako’s test results into the nationally integrated reporting system.
Then they fought Rako.
Last week, on 29 September, the Government introduced the COVID-19 Public Health Response Amendment Bill (No 2) into Parliament.
Rako found out about it on 5 October. Submissions close Monday 11 October.
Section 11 of the Bill provides the Government with the ability to requisition Rako’s materials and services, compensating the company at a deemed “market price”. Existing contracts with private hospitals for testing might need to be voided, come the requisition order.
On a charitable and optimistic interpretation, the Government has finally realised that it needs to contract for a massive amount of testing and does not want to have to negotiate with the provider of the only test validated to the appropriate ISO standard.
On a more frightening one, the Government is preparing to quasi-nationalise the provider they fought for so long.
Let’s hope Rako wins this one. If they don’t, we all lose.