Began R&D for test kits the moment virus spread in Wuhan: Indian developer for Covid-19 kits (IANS Interview)
New Delhi, March 24 (IANS) In a major breakthrough in the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic, the country is fortunate to have its first ‘Made in India’ test kit.
A Pune-based biotechnology company would roll out the test kit from its plant by Wednesday morning. A core team of top biotechnologists led by Dr Hansmukh Rawal developed this kit within one-and-a-half months and got approvals from the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) on Monday.
The test kit, costing Rs 4,500, requires only 2.5 hours to process the results. Usually it takes 6-8 hours to give results of COCID-19 tests.
“We have used molecular diagnostic technology and the results are highly accurate. We adhere to the latest parameters of WHO (World Health Organization), ” Rawal told IANS.
On the idea of developing the COVID-19 testing kit in India, Rawal said that as soon the pandemic broke out in China, the scientists at his lab in Pune got involved in the process.
“It was in January (two months ago) that we had a meeting with our core team which includes bio technologists Dr Gautam Wankhede, Dr Shefali and several other key scientists. Our team had the experience of developing diagnostics kits for pathogen detection and viral load monitoring. So we had the expertise and the R&D began swiftly.
“Within days things started to shape up. After a couple of weeks, we knew that our bio technologists have succeeded in developing the kit,” Rawal said, adding, “And we were happy to discover that yesterday morning we got the letter of ICMR approval from the National Institute of Virology.”
The biotechnologists said that any company could claim that it has developed a test kit but several criteria have to be met and finally it is the government which approves the product capable of delivering a very accurate result.
“We submitted the developed test kit to the National Institute of Virology, the apex centre of ICMR for COVID-19 in India. After comprehensive tests, we got the ICMR letter on March 23. In other words we got approval to manufacture (subject to technical clearance) and supply the test kits. We have also procured the technical clearance and are ready for production,” Rawal informed.
In a bid to contain the coronavirus pandemic, the WHO has been requesting government authorities to go for mass testing in virus affected regions. However, the exercise can be carried out provided tests kits are available in abundance.
On the issue of production, Rawal said that by this week, 1 lakh tests kits would be dispatched. Gradually the production volume would reach 4.5 lakh test kits per week.
“By tomorrow morning, the tests kits would by supplied from our manufacturing plant and would be available across India in a couple of days,” Rawal said.
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