At a time when new cases of Covid-19 started showing a big spike, Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) has allowed all national research laboratories under the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) to conduct testing for novel coronavirus. Apart from this, ICMR– the national medical research body, has also proposed that the government laboratories operational under the Department of Biotechnology (DBT), Department of Science and Technology (DST) and Department of Atomic Energy (DAE) too can be allowed to carry out the testing for the virus infection, which has already claimed 56 deaths in the country.
Though the rate of newly confirmed cases had temporarily stabilised in the first few days of the 21-day national lockdown, it hs seen a sudden spike in the last few days. Suspected community level infection in certain parts of the country and a virus spread by potential carriers, who attended a religious congregation in New Delhi, attended by more than 2000 people, including foreign nationals travelled from the disease affected countries, are believed to be the source of the new cases.
CSIR is the premier national research and development organisation which operates a network of over 38 laboratories across the country. Of these, at least 15 have the necessary equipments to start the testing, leading with Hyderabad-based Centre for Cellular & Molecular Biology (CCMB). “Our laboratories are fully- capable and well-equipped to conduct these tests. All this while, we had been getting ready to start the process, and with ICMR’s decision, we can start the testing right away. It is a time, when all of us should do whatever we can. It is a welcome step,” said CSIR Director General, Dr Shekhar Mande, adding that each of the laboratories can do at least 300-400 tests a day.