Union home minister Amit Shah and Spicejet CMD Ajay Singh launch a mobile RT-PCR lab at ICMR headquarters, in New Delhi, Monday.(PTI Photo)
Union home minister Amit Shah and Spicejet CMD Ajay Singh launch a mobile RT-PCR lab at ICMR headquarters, in New Delhi, Monday.(PTI Photo)

Amit Shah launches Covid RT-PCR test at Rs 499; result in 6 hours

In the first phase, 20 such labs are likely to be set up, and each lab is capable of processing 1,000 tests in a day.
Hindustan Times, New Delhi | By Rhythma Kaul
UPDATED ON NOV 23, 2020 11:38 PM IST

Union home minister Amit Shah on Monday launched the first of a series of mobile labs at the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) headquarters in New Delhi that will conduct cheapest real time Reverse Transcription Polymerase Chain Reaction (RT-PCR) test in the country, to detect coronavirus disease (Covid-19).

The RT-PCR test, which in some states costs as high as Rs 2,400, will be done for Rs 499, making this confirmatory Covid-19 test affordable for people at large. And the test report will also be generated in a record time of 6 hours after sample collection as compared to 24-48 hours that it takes at most places currently.

SpiceHealth, an initiative of the promoters of SpiceJet, and led by Avani Singh, CEO, SpiceHealth, will be setting up a number of portable testing facilities across the country to make the highly sensitive RT-PCR testing readily accessible.

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In the first phase, 20 such labs are likely to be set up, and each lab is capable of processing 1,000 tests in a day.

“First phase is largely meant for Delhi, and since these laboratories are mobile these will be deployed at different locations that will be identified based on the testing requirement of the national Capital,” said Dr Rajnikant Srivastava, spokesperson, ICMR.

“This is an effort to ensure Covid-19 testing is not just accessible but affordable to masses. ICMR has already relaxed criteria for Covid-19 testing, and it is practically available on demand to minimise the number of infected people,” he added.

As part of make-in-India initiative, SpiceHealth, and GeneStore, a genomics company, will jointly establish these testing facilities across the country.

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The testing kits and laboratory facilities have been certified by ICMR, and the mobile laboratories have been duly accredited by National Accreditation Board for Testing and Calibration Laboratories (NABL).

“Today is a momentous day for all of us at SpiceHealth as we take this crucial step towards ensuring affordable Covid-19 testing to as many Indians as possible. Despite being the world’s second most affected country by Covid-19, with over 9 million reported cases so far, India has found it challenging to scale up RT-PCR testing for the virus. We are proud to be able to contribute to our country’s efforts to fight this global pandemic,” said Avani Singh.

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“The RT-PCR test, known for its diagnostic accuracy, is the most commonly used Covid test worldwide. By offering this test at a fraction of the current price, ensuring a much faster turnaround time of just six hours, and deploying mobile laboratories which are easily transportable to the remotest areas, we hope to significantly scale up testing across the country,” she added.

SpiceHealth has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the ICMR for setting up testing laboratories and collection centers across the nation.

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