Noted microbiologist Bijon Kumar Sil, who led the researchers of Gonoshasthaya Kendra (GK) in inventing coronavirus rapid testing kits, returned to Singapore on Sunday due to work permit complications.
Dr Bijon left Hazrat Shahjalal Airport around 7.30 am by a flight of Biman Bangladesh Airlines, said GK’s press adviser Jahangir Alam Mintoo.“Gonoshasthya Kendra will provide him all-out cooperation so that he gets a visa to come back to Bangladesh. Hopefully, he’ll return to the country soon as he’s always eager to work here,” Mintoo said.
Born in Natore of Bangladesh, Dr Bijon is currently a citizen of Singapore. He has been working as the head of microbiology department of Gono University for nearly one and a half years obtaining a visa and work permit which expired in July last.
Jahangir said the microbiologist could not leave the country after the expiry of his work permit due to the coronavirus-induced travel restrictions.
He said the Gono University authorities have already applied for a work permit for Dr Bijon by submitting all the necessary documents in this regard. “We hope, he’ll be given a work permit allowing him to work for his motherland.”
Dr Bijon relinquished his Bangladeshi citizenship to Singapore as per the rules there while joining that country’s Civil Service in 2002. His wife and two children live in Singapore.
He was appointed to the Gono University in Savar on a three-year contract on February 12, 2019.A GK team under Bijon’s leadership developed coronavirus’ antibody and antigen kits.
On May 13, GK submitted the samples of GR Covid-19 Rapid Dot Blot antigen and antibody kits to the Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujib Medical University (BSMMU) authorities for the performance trial.
However, it requested BSMMU on June 3 to suspend the performance study of its coronavirus-testing antigen kit due to the detection of some inconsistencies in the sample collection procedure.
Later, the BSMMU conducted the trial of the antibody kit and found it not fully effective to detect the corona patients.
Following the BSMMU’s report, the Directorate General of Drug Administration (DGDA) did not approve the kit.
According to a release of the GK, Dr Bijon invented the PPR vaccine in 1999 to control the goat plague. He also developed the quick test method in 2002 and the SARS virus quick test method in 2003.
As a Singaporean government scientist, Dr Bijon also played a key role in preventing the SARS virus in Southeast Asia.