COVID-19: 'Will be self-reliant in making RT-PCR kits'

India will be self-reliant in producing RT-PCR testing kits by May-end: Vardhan

Union Minister of Health and Family Welfare. (Credit: PTI Photo)

Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan on Tuesday said the country will be self-reliant in producing RT-PCR and antibody testing kits by May-end that will enable it to conduct one lakh tests a day.

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Vardhan also reviewed through video conferencing various initiatives undertaken by the Department of Biotechnology (DBT) to tackle the COVID-19 crisis.

Out of at least half a dozen candidates (companies) supported for vaccines, four are in an advanced stage and regulatory platform at one place has been constituted for speedy clearances, he was quoted as saying in a statement.

Renu Swarup, Secretary, Department of Biotechnology, informed that her department has evolved a multi-pronged research strategy and action plan for immediate responses as well as for long-term preparedness to tackle COVID-19.

These multi-faceted efforts include research towards development of therapeutics and suitable animal testing for coronavirus as well as development of indigenous diagnostics and genomic studies on the host and pathogen.

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The DBT and its public sector undertakings, Biotechnology Industry Research Assistance Council (BIRAC), has announced a COVID-19 Research Consortium Call to support diagnostics, vaccines, novel therapeutics, repurposing of drugs or any other intervention for control of COVID-19.

"The sincere efforts of DBT scientists will enable the country to be self-reliant in production of RT-PCR (reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction) and antibody testing kits by the end of next month. This will make it possible to meet the target of conducting one lakh tests per day," he said.  

Vardhan, who is also Science and Technology minister, exhorted scientists working on developing new vaccines, drugs and medical equipment to speed up their work.

Testing is one of the key elements in fighting COVID-19. Last week, the Indian Council for Medical Research (ICMR) stopped rapid testing after they showed satisfactory results.

Vardhan also released a hand sanitiser developed by another PSU of DBT, Bharat Immunologicals and Biologicals Corporation Ltd (BIBCOL), which is engaged in manufacturing of various biological, pharmaceutical and food products.

It is currently manufacturing formulations of vitamin C and zinc tablets to contribute towards the solution for COVID-19.