45 lakh Covid tests per day by June end, 3 more self-test home kits on pipeline: ICMR
The Centre is aiming to increase the per-day number of Covid-19 tests to 45 lakh by the end of June, Dr Balram Bhargava, the director-general of the Indian Council of Medical Research said on Thursday, adding that the self-test home kits will also contribute to this process as another three kits are likely to get the approval soon.
As early testing, followed by immediate isolation in case of a positive test, is the key to control the transmission, the ICMR is targetting to increase the number of daily tests in the country. As of now, the health infrastructure has the capacity of conducting around 12-13 lakh RTPCR tests and 17 lakh rapid antigen tests per day. Though the workforce of testing laboratories has been hit by the infection, labs are working round the clock to meet the increased testing demand, Dr Bhargava said.
Watch: Now, rapid Covid-19 testing at home with CoviSelf: All you need to know
Explaining the continuous increase in the number of tests, Dr Bhargava said if the case positivity rates of April and May are compared, then there has been a sharp fall as between May 13 and May 19, the weekly positivity rate of Covid-19 was 15 per cent. But this decline is being reported despite a sharp increase in the number of tests. From about eight lakh tests per day in February, March, India reported more than 20 lakh tests on May 18 and 19, the ICMR chief said adding that by the end of this month, there will be 25 lakh tests every day and 45 lakh tests by the end of June. "Unless the positivity rate comes down to 5 per cent, the testing number will go up," he said.
On doctors already prescribing DRDO's 2-DG for Covid-19 treatment, Dr Bhargava said it can be written on prescriptions as this is not a new drug. "It is an old drug meant for cancer treatment. Since this is a repurposed drug, it can be written," he said.