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Meet the woman behind India's first covid testing kit -- ET News (28-03-20)
In what may go down as a crucial benchmark in India's
fight against the Covid-19 virus, a Pune-based diagnostic firm developed the
country's first testing kit this week.
With just 6.8 tests per million, one of the
lowest rates in the world, India has been criticized for not testing enough.
Now, this home-grown test kit could be the breakthrough the country needed. All
this was made possible because of the efforts of one virologist, who delivered
on a working test kit, hours before delivering her baby.
behind it all
Under Mylab's research and development Chief, Minal Dakhave
Bhosale, the coronavirus testing kit called Patho Detect, was developed in just
six weeks, the BBC reported.
The scientist was also battling with another deadline-- last
week she gave birth to a baby girl. Bhosale began work on the programme in
February, just days after leaving hospital with pregnancy complications.
"It was an emergency, so I took this on as a challenge.
I had to serve my nation," she said, adding that her team of 10 worked
"very hard" to make the project a success.
In the end, she submitted the kit to the National
Institute of Virology (NIV) for evaluation on March 18th, just a day before
delivering her daughter.
First made-in-India Covid test
India's first corona virus testing kit hit Indian markets on
Thursday, in a bid to increase frequency of testing and to confirm or rule out
the Covid-19 infection. "Our kit gives the diagnosis in two and a half
hours while the imported testing kits take six-seven hours," Bhosale said
in an interview with Hindustan Times.
Mylabs Discovery Solutions, which received statutory
approvals late on Monday from authorities, can manufacture over 15,000 testing
kits per day from its facility at Lonavala in Pune district and the same will
be ramped up to 25,000 kits per day.
Mylab shipped the first batch of 150 to diagnostic labs
in Pune, Mumbai, Delhi, Goa and Bengaluru (Bangalore) this week. "Our manufacturing
unit is working through the weekend and the next batch will be sent out on
Monday," Dr Gautam Wankhede, Mylab's director for medical affairs, told
The molecular diagnostic company, which also makes
testing kits for HIV and Hepatitis B and C, and other diseases, says it can
supply up to 100,000 Covid-19 testing kits a week and can produce up to 200,000
Each Mylab kit can test 100 samples and costs Rs 1,200, about
a quarter of the Rs 4,500 that India pays to import testing kits from abroad.
Initially, India insisted on testing only those who had
traveled to high-risk countries or had come in contact with an infected person
or health workers treating corona virus patients. It later said that anyone
admitted to hospital with severe respiratory distress would also be tested.
In the past few days, India has scaled up testing.
Initially, only the state labs were allowed to test for corona virus, but
permission has now been extended to several private labs too.
India now has well over 800 positive cases of
corona virus, but with the circle of infection widening daily, the numbers are
expected to rise further.