Mumbai: With the number of Covid-19 cases rising across India, companies are readying infrastructure diagnostic test kits and testing facilities which can be used quickly in case the viral load increases.
Chennai-based medical device firm Trivitron Healthcare is developing diagnostic test kits for Covid-19, which would perhaps be the first indigenous kit to be launched, while major private testing laboratories, SRL Dr Avinash Phadke Labs and Metropolis, are getting their safety protocols and testing infrastructure ready. This comes even as the government reportedly plans to adopt an aggressive strategy to test random samples of people, who display flu-like symptoms but have no travel history to outbreak zones, in order to prevent community transmission.
At present, India imports diagnostic testing kits from Germany and Switzerland, while the testing is handled by 52 Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) laboratories across the country.
Right now India has approved only rapid RT PCR kits for accurate and confirmatory testing, with Thermo Fisher and Roche supplying these kits globally. Trivitron plans to launch indigenously-manufactured RT PCR kits. Dr GSK Velu, chairman and managing director, told TOI that Trivitron is waiting for approvals from National Institute of Virology for validation protocols and positive samples.
“The kits by our JV company in China, Labsystems Diagnostics Shandong, are approved and sold there. China and we are planning to use that expertise and compone-nts to make them in India. The costs are still being worked out. We have allocated Rs 4 to 5 crore emergency funds to upgrade our R&D infrastructure for launching hand sanitizers and Covid-19 kits,” he added.
There is a debate on whether countries should follow the South Korea model of wide-scale testing, which is believed to be successful in containing the outbreak. At present, India will not go the South Korea way reportedly but may revise its strategy if the situation arises.
Though the government is not in favour of private testingof Covid-19 at present, the situation may change later with private diagnostic chains being roped in. Ameera Shah, promoter and MD, Metropolis Healthcare said the company has been selected by the Mumbai civic chief for Covid-19 testing. “We are waiting for the formal notification from ministry of health to start private testing. We can conduct about 2,000 tests per day. A dedicated and isolated Covid-19 laboratory has been set up in Mumbai with a dedicated taskforce to ensure accurate testing, safety of patients and employees. Currently, the government is doing an efficient job of handling the crisis and if the need arises, we are ready to step in, and take over the additional load.” Dr Ajay Phadke, head SRL Dr Avinash Phadke Labs, said a public-private partnership could be formed to subsidise the cost of Covid testing as the cost of Rs 2,000 will be steep for most people. “No one wants to make profits, but just the cost overheads could be covered,” he said.-Times Of India