The strategy helps India reduce the price of Covid-19 testing by 10 times 4

The strategy helps India reduce the price of Covid-19 testing by 10 times 4

The cost of PCR testing in India decreased from 70 USD to 7 USD, after the country produced its own testing tools and biological products.

During the first wave of Covid-19 last spring, Sanchi Jawa and Harish Jawa, her 59-year-old father, noticed they had symptoms of the virus.

Father and son had to call many times to several private laboratories in the capital New Delhi to get PCR tests, the method considered to be the most accurate in detecting Covid-19 cases.

Sanchi, a 29-year-old marketing employee, and her father, a successful businessman, could afford the test fees.

To solve this problem, the Indian government, under funding from the Rockefeller Foundation, quickly assigned the task of finding a way to produce nCoV testing tools domestically to the Center for Cellular and Molecular Platforms (C).

A scientist works in the laboratory of Huwel Lifesciences, a manufacturer of nCoV testing kits in Hyderabad, India, on October 7.

However, this is not a simple task because most of the equipment used in PCR testing, including sample mixers, are not manufactured in India but must be imported from China and Korea, increasing the cost of testing.

Additionally, India has never widely produced reagents, primers and other chemicals used to analyze and detect viruses.

Despite many difficulties, the program led by C-CAMP, in partnership with Indian medical technology manufacturers and supported by consulting firm Tata, has created rapid change.

As a result, India has increased from 14 laboratories capable of conducting nCoV testing in February 2020 to more than 1,500 facilities within 6 months.

The availability of domestic testing biological products also helps India produce its own cheap testing kits, only about 0.5 USD per kit if purchased wholesale from the manufacturer.

Lalith Kishore, executive director of the nCoV testing expansion program at C-CAMP, said collaboration between the public and private sectors has helped more than 160 Indian companies innovate, establish mechanisms and co-produce products.

`Many of these companies have created the conditions to completely reverse our dependence on imports for diagnostics,` Kishore assessed.

With increasing nCoV testing capacity, India has conducted a total of more than 580 million tests.

Manisha Bhinge, executive director of Health Programs and Initiatives at the Rockefeller Foundation, which provided $3.5 million to C-CAMP, believes that boosting nCoV testing capacity can help medical professionals

This played a particularly important role in India’s deadly second wave of infections, with more than 400,000 nCoV infections detected every day and peaking in May. `The extent of the crisis will continue

Bhinge added that the policy of promoting self-production of nCoV testing kits and biological products not only helps India fight the epidemic, but also creates a new market to serve countries that want to buy diagnostic kits and technology.

Cheap, sometimes free, PCR tests have given millions of Indians access to what is considered the `gold standard` testing method, like 23-year-old driver Mohit Dabla, who earns just 300

After showing symptoms of nCoV infection in September, Dabla was asked by his superiors to undergo a PCR test.

`I can’t pay $70 for a test,` Dabla said.

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