India would be able to carry out about 1 lakh Covid-19 tests per day using indigenous test kits by the end of May 2020, said Union Minister for Health and Family Welfare Dr Harsh Vardhan, in a press statement on Wednesday.
“Sincere efforts of the scientists at the Department of Biotechnology (DBT) will enable the country to be self-reliant in the production of RT-PCR and antibody test kits by the end of next month. This will make it possible to meet the target of conducting one lakh tests per day by the end of next month” said the Union Minister while addressing the various initiatives undertaken by the DBT.
Presently, the available test kits are mostly imported from other countries and is not all reliable as they were found to show variability in test results.
After several states recently complained of faulty and inaccurate results by using the rapid antibody test kits procured from two Chinese firms, the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) has decided to reanalyse the kits to validate their efficacy.
The DBT and its Autonomous Institutes (AIs) and its Public Sector Undertakings (PSUs) are currently developing candidate vaccines, therapeutics, and suitable animal models for COVID-19 as well as working on indigenous diagnostics and genomic studies on the host and pathogen, revealed Dr Renu Swarup, Secretary, DBT.
The labs are working on various computational methods to predict potential antiviral drug molecules that could prove effective against the nCoV-19.
Meanwhile, the candidate vaccines under development are at various stages of pre-clinical studies and is under evaluation for its immunogenicity and safety prior to clinical testing.
“Out of at least half a dozen candidates supported for vaccines, four are in an advanced stage and a centralised regulatory platform has been constituted for speedy clearances,” Dr Harshvardhan said.