ICMR to develop low-cost testing kits for swine flu

Top scientists and senior government officials met here to discuss steps to develop the low-cost kits, officials said.

The meeting, attended by ICMR chief V M Katoch, National Institute of Communicable Diseases Director Shivlal and Joint Secretary (Health) Vineet Choudhury, came a day after Union Health Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad said the ICMR will explore the possibility of developing low-cost kits.

Once developed, these kits will be distributed across the country.

Reagents used to test swine flu are very expensive as a negative sample will cost Rs 5,000 and a positive sample will cost Rs 10,000.

Azad has said the government has already taken steps to procure adequate testing reagents by immediately procuring another 22,000 kits in addition to the 27,000 kits recently procured. This will cost around Rs 1.75 crore.

On developing vaccine for swine flu, he said a company has already commenced animal trial of these vaccines. To ensure fast track production of vaccines, he said, the ICMR would "harmonise" animal trials of the vaccines being developed by companies.

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