Corona update: “We will be able to produce RT-PCR and antibody test kits in India by May”, says Dr. Harsh Vardhan
- the country will be able to produce indigenous coronavirus-testing kits by May
- A total of 29,435 confirmed cases of COVID-19 have been reported in India
- Earlier, India paused rapid tests over the faulty kits provided by China
DELHI: On Tuesday, Union Health Minister Dr Harsh Vardhan held a review meeting via video conference with LG-Delhi, Delhi Health Minister, MCD Commissioners, DMs and DCPs of all districts of Delhi and Central/State and District surveillance officers and heads of government hospitals on the coronavirus pandemic.
In the meeting Dr.Harsh Vardhan said, “We will be able to produce RT-PCR and antibody test kits in India by May. All processes are in advance stage and production will start after getting approval from ICMR. It will help us in meeting our target of 1 lakh tests per day by May 31”.
This comes after India had withdrawn the rapid test kits that were already in use in several states after they failed quality checks by the ICMR.
The rapid testing kits cannot test for coronavirus itself and several scientists had raised concerns over their use for diagnosis.
Various Indian states had been pushing the Indian Medical Research Council (ICMR) to allow testing with the kits amid concerns that India was not testing anywhere close to enough.
The ICMR was initially reluctant, but cleared the way, importing the kits from two Chinese companies. However, soon after the states began complaining that the kits had an accuracy rate of only 5%, adding that they had used the kits on patients who they already knew were positive, but the tests had shown a “negative” result for antibodies.
India, therefore, paused rapid tests over China kit issues.On Monday, the issue was further complicated after the Delhi high court capped the price of the tests and suggested that the government had overpaid.
However, officials have told local media that the government will “not lose a single rupee” from cancelling the order kits as they had not paid the amount in advance, and had cancelled the entire shipment.
ICMR has said that the rapid antibody tests showed a wide variation in results, which is against the assurances given by the manufacturers.
It, therefore, asked state governments to return the rapid antibody testing kits that India had procured from China.
However, denying India’s claims & defending their medical products China has questioned the handling of the testing kits by Indian agencies.
“We have also learned that there are strict requirements for the storage, transportation and use of COVID-19 antibody rapid test kits. Any operation which is not carried out by professionals in accordance with the product specifications will lead to testing accuracy variations,” Chinese embassy spokesperson Ji Rong said in a statement issued on Tuesday.
While questioning India on the handling of the kits, the Chinese embassy also reminded New Delhi of the help being extended by Beijing in handling the coronavirus crisis.
“China not only sincerely supports India in its fight against Covid-19, but also takes concrete actions to help. The quality of medical products exported from China is prioritised. It is unfair and irresponsible for certain individuals to label Chinese products as “faulty” and look at issues with preemptive prejudice,” she said.
Even as the world fights the pandemic, China has become the largest manufacturer and exporter of medical equipment and protective gear. The acute shortage of these products is the reason why most countries continue to order medical equipment from China despite many countries complaining of faulty testing kits and substandard Personal Protection Equipment (PPE).