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Coronavirus pandemic | India prepares for rapid testing as more COVID-19 hotspots identified.

Date: 04-04-2020
Subject: Coronavirus pandemic | India prepares for rapid testing as more COVID-19 hotspots identified
Due to the efforts of the government and other concerned authorities to track down the source of infection of several COVID-19 patients, several novel coronavirus hotspots are surfacing now. As the crackdown continues, the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) on April 2 issued an advisory advocating the use of rapid testing kits in such hotspots, to enhance screening and identifying capabilities.

A Bengaluru-based biotechnology start-up called Bione has already prepared set an antibody-based rapid testing kit that will likely be available in the market by next week, reported Business Standard. This kit will be capable of giving test results at home within 10 to 15 minutes.

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Some other firms are reportedly also developing similar kits, which can revolutionise the COVID-19-testing scenario in the country.

The kit developed by Bione conducts immunoglobin-based tests that can also tell what stage of infection a person may be in. This kit also requires the collection of blood and will be priced at Rs 2,000 roughly, varying slightly as per the import cost.

These kits can be used at public health centres in villages to find out the number of infections quickly, which is the need of the hour given thousands of migrant workers have returned to their native places since the lockdown; there is a possibility that 30 percent of these people are already carrying novel coronavirus infection.

Coronavirus pandemic | How does COVID-19 compare to other pandemics, outbreaks?

Bione’s own manufacturing facility will take another three months to be ready. Until then, they will be importing these from their global partners, which can be supplied to the markets at the rate of 1,00,000 kits per month. The numbers will go up drastically once the indigenous kits are ready for supply too.

So far, the ICMR has given approval to 12 antibody-based rapid test kits for novel coronavirus detection, which will hit the Indian pharma market soon. Seven of these are from China, and the other five are from the United States and Singapore. India has reportedly procured nearly five lakh such antibody-based rapid testing kits already.

The COVID-19 detection tests being carried out in India right now are called PCR require nasal or throat swabs and it takes about five hours for the results to come out. A Pune-based facility called MyLab has, however, developed ‘Patho Detect’ which provides test results in half the time as compared to PCR.

The rapid test kits are far more time-efficient because they use blood samples of suspected patients and the results are based on the presence of antibodies that are released to fight the novel coronavirus.


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