India, over the last two weeks, has received around 400 tonnes of medical items, including RT-PCR test kits, PPE kits, Rapid Antibody Tests as well as thermometers.
Recently, the Modi government made it clear that in the coming days, it will get nearly 20 more flights full of medical supplies from China. This has been decided by the government despite questions being raised on the quality of testing kits that are imported from China. According to the government, India, over the last two weeks, has received around 400 tonnes of medical items, including RT-PCR test kits, PPE kits, Rapid Antibody Tests as well as thermometers. These supplies have been imported in almost two dozen flights from five cities in China. Anurag Srivastava, the spokesperson for the Ministry of External Affairs was quoted in an IE report saying that around 20 more flight services are likely to bring medical supplies from China and in the next few months as India’s procurement efforts gain momentum, this is expected to be stepped up.
According to the sources quoted in the report, the quality assurance of the testing kits was done by the Indian embassies, and they did not make any judgement on the Chinese testing kits. The kits are being procured from qualified and approved suppliers and they meet certain basic standards. Also, third-party inspection is done, they said. While speaking on the recent kits that are procured by the ICMR which are currently under the scanner, they said that the body is “still looking into” it as well as they will “make a judgement”. Srivastava also said that the six-speed testing machines that are SUV-sized high and are in high demand, are being sourced from Roche in the United States of America. He also said that India’s R&D labs are in touch with labs in Germany and Israel which are undertaking cutting edge work.
According to the MEA spokesperson, a noteworthy development has been that through coordination with India’s concerned agencies, arrangements were made whereby a South Korean company’s Indian subsidiary has commenced manufacturing of COVID-19 rapid anti-body testing kits in its plant in Manesar, in the state of Haryana, with a capacity of 5 lakh tests per week. On April 19, the first batch was rolled out, setting a great example of ‘Make in India’. He further said that a contract has been signed to procure and supply 5 lakh corona testing kits on behalf of ICMR with another South Korean firm.
As part of the Modi government’s response to the novel Coronavirus outbreak, as many as 11 empowered groups have been established for an integrated all-of-government approach. In the empowered group, the Ministry of External Affairs has been playing a crucial role that deals with ensuring the availability of necessary medical supplies and equipment, Srivastava said. Moreover, the ministry is also facilitating collaboration between the country and foreign agencies in research and development efforts related to novel Coronavirus. With India being a major supplier of pharma products to the world, humanitarian aid and commercial supplies are being provided as well, including HCQs and Paracetamol, he added.