Indigenous tests kits to be ready by mid-May: Centre
Indigenous antibody-based rapid test (blood test) kits and real-time polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) swab-based kits for the coronavirus disease (Covid-19) developed by laboratories running under the ministry of science and technology will be ready around the middle of May, said health miniser Dr Harsh Vardhan.
“The next couple of weeks are going to be crucial as we will get to see results of some of our research and development work by scientists working under the ministry of science and technology. Around mid May we will have indigenous development of good quality antibody test kits, and also kits for detection of the virus (RT-PCR kits). All of this will come in May; thanks to our scientists,” said Union health minister Harsh Vardhan.
The institutes and companies collaborating on these projects include Rajiv Gandhi Centre for Biotechnology, Thiruvananthapuram, Sri Ramchandra Institute of Higher Education and Research, Porur, Chennai, Central University of Kerala, and Dhiti Life Sciences Pvt.Ltd.
The minister, along with Amitabh Kant from Niti Aayog, reviewed the work of various non-government organisations (NGOs) and civil society members involved in helping the government in managing the Covid-19 situation in the country on Thursday.
The science and technology ministry is working on a number of other projects in the field of diagnostics, therapeutics or vaccine against the novel viral infection.
“There is a varied range of projects, be it discovery of the new drugs or repurposing of the old or existing drug molecules for finding out solutions to Covid-19, or even looking at vaccine development, which our scientists are working on. We already have half a dozen vaccine candidates, of which four candidates are in a significantly advanced stage,” said Harsh Vardhan.
Harsh Vardhan is also the minister for science and technology in the government.
There are various laboratories under the department of biotechnology and council of scientific and industrial research that are into genetic sequencing of the Sars-Cov-2, the virus that causes Covid-19.
“The viral sequencing is happening at about 1000 labs across the country functioning under the department of biotechnology and at about 500 labs under the council of scientific and industrial research. A lot of things are happening; we are also supporting many new start-ups who have shown promise in the field,” said Harsh Vardhan.
“The virus is going to stay with us for long, so we need to prepare accordingly,” he added.
Experts feel it is high time India starts focusing on make in India products by encouraging domestic manufacturers.
“…why should we depend on Chinese or products from any other country when we have the capability to manufacture indigenously? We should encourage Indian manufacturers by protecting their investments and creating a market for them. India has the capability. All we need is help in scaling up our capacity. This is the time to consolidate our resources and work like a single unit. It should be a consortium approach and not a competitive approach then we might even be able to export stuff,” says Dr T Jacob John, former head of virology department, Christian Medical College, Vellore.