The second wave of COVID-19 pandemic has had a huge impact on people, institutions and systems in the country.
The second wave of Covid-19 put immense pressure on India’s healthcare system especially on the diagnostic front. There was a long waiting time to get the Covid-19 test reports at the peak of the second wave in April and May. In order to make Covid-19 testing easier, ICMR or the Indian Council of Medical Research gave a go ahead for India’s first Covid-19 self-testing kit developed by Mylab Discovery Solutions. In an exclusive conversation with Financial Express Online Hasmukh Rawal, MD, Mylab Discovery Solutions talked about Coviself that will allow users to take a Covid-19 indicative test at home and their other initiatives. Excerpts:
Why did you decide to launch self-test kits, CoviSelf?
Mylab Discovery Solutions launched India’s first self (Covid-19) testing kit, CoviSelf on June 3, 2021. The objective behind the launch is to reduce pressure on overburdened laboratories and slow down the spread of COVID-19 significantly. The kit gives power to the common individuals to get tested themselves in the comfort of their home without getting exposed to the normal hospital and laboratory environment.
Priced at INR 250, CoviSelfTM can be used by individuals with or without symptoms and immediate contacts of confirmed cases as per the ICMR guidelines. Designed as the mid-nasal swab test, it can detect positive results in just 15 mins.
The second wave of COVID-19 pandemic has had a huge impact on people, institutions and systems in the country. Hence, it is critical to undertake efficient, mass testing to not only contain the spread of the virus to next waves but also to safeguard the healthcare infrastructure from extreme strain.
How many CoviSelf kits have been distributed so far?
By last week, over 30 lakhs CoviSelf kits had left our warehouses across the country. Based on consumer demand, we will make 7 million units available per week. We are looking to make it available in 95% of the PIN codes in the country.
What have been the key initiatives undertaken by Mylab to combat Covid-19 since last year?
We are focused on impact-based product development and are continuously striving to bring in new innovations and make cutting edge technology available to our country at an affordable price, to fight this pandemic. We have been at the forefront of increasing India’s testing capacity for Covid-19 and have managed to cover the whole spectrum of COVID-19 testing.
We have developed the first made in India test kits for COVID-19, which is known as Mylab PathoDetect COVID-19 Qualitative PCR kit.
We launched Pathocatch COVID-19 Antigen Rapid testing kit to increase rapid testing which is the Point-of-Care method and complements the more rigorous RT-PCR test to detect coronavirus. We supplied more than 40 million test tests last year.
Last year, we also launched the ‘Compact XL’ system which can conduct upto 96 tests at a time on one run, which translates to more than 1000 tests per day. It is designed to automate lab operations and reduce the requirement for manpower. It could replace the need of 700 sq ft of clean room lab with a 4×3 bench top machine with just one expert technician, thus saving operational costs for labs.
To increase RT-PCR testing amidst the second wave of coronavirus in India, we rolled out ICMR-approved and NABL certified mobile testing labs for molecular testing. Each mobile lab requires only 2 technicians, and can undertake 1500 to 3000 tests per day and process samples in 24 hours. The vans are powered by automated Compact XL machines which test 3 times faster than the conventional labs due to parallel processing and automated handling.
Our latest offering, CoviSelf simplifies the testing process by empowering people to test themselves. It offers a comfortable, easy-to-use and accurate alternative to the current test method.
What are your future plans?
We are looking to increase our global footprint and make our products available across the world. We have already received European CE approval for our antigen test kit and ‘Compact XL’ system.
What are the other initiatives undertaken by Mylab in the field of diagnostic?
We are trying to develop more solutions which use the high-end tech including artificial intelligence and biosensors to enable low cost, accurate and fast testing. We want to work on the big problem that diagnostics face, which are access and cost. We are developing machines and kits for more than 70 disease areas including Oncology and infectious diseases.
There is huge demand for Covid testing. How does Mylab aim to fulfil the needs?
With the emergence of virus mutations, Covid-19 testing will continue to play a key role in fighting the pandemic, and we need to constantly upgrade our testing infrastructure. It is important to expand the portfolio of tests and invest in technologies to scale testing requirements.
At Mylab, we have been working relentlessly to ensure wider testing accessibility to fight against Covid-19. We are committed to develop and provide high-quality indigenous solutions for testing, thus changing the course of the COVID-19 trajectory in India.
With our new product, Coviself, we are confident of addressing the challenge of mass testing which is the need of the hour, and make Covid-19 testing accessible for people in India, especially for the people residing in rural areas who have limited options for testing.
What are the challenges faced by Mylab?
Challenges for us include solving the novel issues. We start with the golden rule of Pi where we want to make any system at least 3.16 times better or cost effective than the current system. For this you need to have researchers with an entrepreneurial mindset and it is a challenge to assemble such a team. Fortunately, in India, we have access to great research talent from brilliant national and regional institutes.