India Aims To Scale Up Covid-19 Testing To One Lakh Daily
A lab technician prepares solutions for the manufacture of coronavirus diagnostic test kits. (Photographer: Krisztian Bocsi/Bloomberg)

India Aims To Scale Up Covid-19 Testing To One Lakh Daily

India aims to ramp-up its Covid-19 testing by fivefold as the number of cases of infection mounts in Asia’s third-largest economy.

The Indian Council for Medical Research is working to scale-up the testing capacity to 1 lakh a day in the upcoming months as part of its preparedness for a worst case scenario, according to a statement. That compares with 18,000 tests daily at present.

The coronavirus pandemic forced the government to announce a 21-day nationwide lockdown, stalling businesses temporarily in an already slowing economy. The novel virus has so far infected more than 4,000 people in the country, including over 100 deaths. The International Monetary Fund had already declared a recession.

The medical research body has also allowed the use of rapid antibody tests as new coronavirus hotspots emerge in the country. It has approved more than 200 labs—public and private—for Covid-19 testing through RT-PCR machines—genetically detecting the pathogen. It is in the process of identifying other government and private labs, research institutes and medical colleges that have the capability and infrastructure to undertake virus testing.

Besides, the ICMR is looking to move into 24*7 working models at existing labs and is coordinating with states to increase manpower for various functions like data entry and optimising in-lab processes such as RNA extraction.

As of April 6, the ICMR has procured 10 lakh RT-PCR kits and is in the process of validating new kits that are non-U.S.FDA, EUA/CEA-IVD. Nineteen such kits are awaiting approval from the Central Drugs Standard Control Organization, it said in a statement.

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