Covid testing: MSME Ministry to help commercialise, license this new technology for faster RT-PCR results

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Updated: September 12, 2021 5:36 PM

Technology for MSMEs: Under the arrangement, the licensees of the new technique are expected to set up manufacturing facilities for commercial production in the form of easily usable compact kits.

The technique has already received the approval of the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR).

Technology for MSMEs: The standard operating procedure and know-how of the indigenously developed saline gargle-based technique for testing of Covid samples has been transferred to the MSME Ministry to help commercialise and license it, the government said on Sunday. Developed in May this year by scientists at Nagpur-based National Environmental Engineering Research Institute (NEERI) under Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) for RT-PCR testing, the non-invasive innovation includes a collection tube filled with saline solution. The patient has to gargle the solution and rinse it inside the tube instead of using a nasopharyngeal swab and oropharyngeal swab. As the country prepares itself for a possible third wave of the pandemic, the institute claimed results are generated within three hours of sample collection through this new technique while collection doesn’t require technical expertise.

“The know-how has been transferred to the Union Ministry of Micro, Small & Medium Enterprises (MSME), on a non-exclusive basis. This would enable the innovation to be commercialized and licensed to all capable parties, including private, government, and various rural development schemes and departments,” the Ministry of Science and Technology said on Sunday. Under the arrangement, the licensees of the new technique are expected to set up manufacturing facilities for commercial production in the form of easily usable compact kits.

The innovation is expected to be beneficial for rural and tribal areas particularly where infrastructure requirements can be a constraint, an official statement had said in May. The technique has already received the approval of the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR).

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MSMEs have been among the worst-hit due to the pandemic since last year, however, there is no official data on the number of MSMEs shut due to Covid. According to a recent study conducted by the MSME ministry through Khadi and Village Industries Commission (KVIC) that assessed the impact of the pandemic on micro-units under the Prime Minister’s Employment Generation Programme (PMEGP), 88 per cent of PMEGP beneficiaries had reported a negative impact while the remaining 12 per cent of micro-units, which operate in the health and retail sectors, stated that they were benefitted due to Covid.

Meanwhile, the Chief Scientist at the World Health Organization (WHO) Dr Soumya Swaminathan on Wednesday told CNBC that India is now “better prepared” to stop new Covid waves. “I think the preparations at health system level have really increased, particularly with respect to oxygen and critical care facilities,” Swaminathan added.

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