Innovations are often born in times of crisis. India’s first locally-made test-kit for Covid-19 has reached the market, raising hopes of an increase in the screening of suspected cases in the battle against coronavirus. Pune-based Mylab Discovery, which has been approved by the government make and sell testing kits, shipped the first batch of 150 to diagnostic labs in Pune, Mumbai, Delhi, Goa, and Bengaluru (Bangalore) this week.“Our manufacturing unit… is working through the weekend and the next batch will be sent out on Monday,” Dr Gautam Wankhede, Mylab’s director for medical affairs, told the BBC.Each Mylab kit, called Patho Detect, costs a quarter of the 4,500 rupees that India pays to import the same from abroad. The diagnostic company, which also makes testing kits for HIV and Hepatitis B and C, and other diseases, said it can supply up to 100,000 Covid-19 testing kits a week and can produce up to 200,000 if needed.
“Our kit gives the diagnosis in two and a half hours while the imported testing kits take six-seven hours,” virologist Minal Dakhave Bhosale, who headed the team that designed the coronavirus testing kit, said.India has been criticized for its poor record of testing people in the battle against the pandemic. Initially, it insisted on testing only those who had traveled to high-risk countries or had come in contact with an infected person. Earlier, only the state labs were allowed to test for coronavirus, although now permission has been extended to selected private labs too. Currently, India has only 118 government laboratories for Covid-19 testing but the government plans to rope in 50 private labs for the task as well. For a population of 1.3 billion, that is far from adequate.
India’s coronavirus death toll rose to 19 while the number of infected people increased to nearly 800, according to the government. Some news reports also claimed that the pandemic in India may have reached a new phase, with an increased risk of a community-level transmission.
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