“In the first fortnight of April, we were struggling a little with supplies,” said CK Mishra, environment secretary.
India is now procuring about 75% of its testing kits from domestic manufacturers, officials said on Wednesday. While the number of samples tested crossed 1 lakh for the second day on Tuesday, efforts are on to further raise daily testing, maybe even double it by the end of June. Amid projections of cases rising in June-July, self-sufficiency in testing kits forms an important part of the central government’s Covid-19 strategy. “In the first fortnight of April, we were struggling a little with supplies,” said CK Mishra, environment secretary.
“But today, that has changed in two ways — the supply has improved and we have also proactively taken measures to reduce the dependence on imports for our testing. To help us go ahead, we made sure we handhold all organisations which can produce RNA extraction kits and VTM (viral transport medium) kits. I would say that more than 75% of the supplies are from domestic manufacturers and new players are coming in every day,” said Mishra, who is also the chairman of the empowered group on hospitals, quarantine facilities, disease surveillance, testing and critical care.
While the RNA extraction kits and VTM kits are needed to prepare samples, the RT-PCR kit is needed for carrying out the test.
At present, four of the six VTM suppliers and five of the eight RNA extraction kit suppliers are domestic manufacturers. Of the 28 companies whose RT-PCR kits have been approved by the ICMR, 14 are domestic firms.
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The Centre has given a free hand to the states to procure their own testing kits. Meanwhile, the total number of cases across the country has touched 1,06,750, of which 5,611 cases were reported in the last 24 hours. With 140 more deaths, the toll is now 3,303 while 42,297 have recovered. With 1,08,121 samples being tested in the last 24 hours, the total number of tests has now touched 25,12,388. The current sample positivity rate is around 4%.
Responding to a question on whether India is planning to change its policy for use of hydroxychloroquine for treatment and post-exposure prophylaxis, Dr R R Gangakhedkar, head of epidemiology and infectious diseases at ICMR, said: “We are considering the evidence, we will take a call on it.”
In a new comparison, the Health Ministry said in a statement: “Compared to the global scale, where there are 62.3 cases per lakh, India still has only 7.9 cases/ lakh population. Similarly, for mortality per lakh population, while the global average rate is 4.2, India’s figure is pegged at 0.2. The relatively low death figures represent timely case identification and clinical management of the cases.”