India has been facing criticism for testing a very low number of people for the deadly novel coronavirus pandemic named Covid-19, a highly contagious viral infection that has killed more than 27,000 people across the world. The country took drastic measures to curb the spread of coronavirus and announced an unprecedented nation-wide lockdown for 21 days.
While the World Health Organisation (WHO) lauded India's aggressive approach to contain the Covid-19 pandemic, it also asked New Delhi to increase its testing. But there was a scarcity of Covid-19 testing kits as India was dependent on other countries that would supply the kits. However, this has started to change and all thanks to Pune-based virologist Minal Dakhave Bhosale and her team.
Bhosale had delivered a cost-effective made-in-India COVID-19 testing kit a day before giving birth to her baby. The first batch of testing kits designed by Bhosale hit the market on Thursday with another batch of 150 coronavirus infection testing kits expected by next week. This will also help India increase the testing of people showing mild symptoms of COVID-19 infection.
Bhosale's firm - Mylab Discovery - has become the first Indian company to produce and sell the Covid-19 testing kits in India. The company says that it can produce 1,00,000 kits every week and double the production if the need arises. Each kit designed by Bhosale can test 100 samples and it costs Rs 1,200 - that is about one-fourth of the current Rs 4,500 the country pays for each testing kit from abroad.
Minal battled pregnancy-related complication, first delivered the kit, then her baby
This was made possible due to Bhosale's courage and dedication to serving the country. Bhosale was tasked with the testing kit in February, soon after she discharged from hospital after developing a pregnancy-related complication. She could have refused the task and go on maternity leave. She, however, chose to stay as India's reputation was at stake.
The project was estimated to take at least three to four months but Bhosale and her team made sure India has its own coronavirus testing kit in just six weeks. Moreover, while the imported kit takes 6-7 hours to diagnose the infection, the made-in-India kit could detect the COVID-19 infection in just two and a half hours.
"It was an emergency, so I took this on as a challenge. I have to serve my nation," BBC quoted her as saying. She had submitted the kit for further evaluation by the National Institute of Virology (NIV), Pune a day before delivering her baby on March 19.
Mylab PathoDetect Covid-19 Qualitative PCR kit cleared the evaluation and was approved for commercial production. The test kit has been developed as per the WHO and CDC guidelines and provides cutting edge technology at a reasonable and affordable price.