India can conduct 1.25 lakh Covid-19 tests a day, says ICMR official
Indian Council of Medical Research deputy director Dr Raman R Gangakhedkar denied that there was any delay in sanctioning indigenously developed testing kits for coronavirus.
Indian Council of Medical Research deputy director Dr Raman R Gangakhedkar on Saturday said the country has evolved a strong Covid-19 testing regime in the last three months and it is now in a position to conduct 1.25 lakh tests a day.
“After starting from scratch three months back, we conducted 72,000 tests today. This is a significantly high number. We are in a position to ramp up testing up to 1.25 lakh a day”, he said responding to queries from media persons in an online interaction organized by the Kerala Health Department.
He lauded Kerala’s containment strategy for Covid-19 and said it was a role model for many other states.
On Saturday, the total number of Covid-19 cases in Kerala stood at 499 out of which 96 are active cases. A total of 403 people have recovered and have been discharged.
When asked about the alleged delay on the part of regulatory bodies in giving sanctions to some of the indigenously developed testing kits especially the one by Sree Chithira Institute for Science and Technology he said there was no delay on the part of the ICMR. Earlier Congress leader and Thiruvananthapuram MP Shashi Tharoor had questioned the delay in approving indigenously developed testing kits.
Referring to the general demand for antibody tests, Dr B Ekbal, who heads an expert panel that advises the Kerala government on prevention of the coronavirus, said antibody test was not for individual diagnosis but was employed to probe whether the disease reached the stage of community transmission.
Across the globe, antibody test is the tool that decides community spread of the disease. “For that to be held in Kerala, we need to devise statistical modeling. Also, one has to validate the antibody test by testing the blood sample of the patient who has recovered,” Dr Ekbal said, in reply to another question.
He said the ICMR is yet to endorse the Chinese equipment for antibody tests and a validation exercise is currently on for three indigenously-developed kits for the purpose. They are ones produced by Sree Chitra Tirunal Institute of Medical Sciences and Technology, Rajiv Gandhi Centre for Biotechnology and by HLL Lifecare bought by the State Medical Services Corporation.