Tale of the woman virologist who delivered India’s first COVID 19 testing kit

Pune: The CEO of National Institute for Transforming India (NITI Aayog) Amitabh Kant has lauded the efforts of a molecular diagnostics company, Mylab Discovery Solutions Pvt. Ltd for developing the country’s first indigenous COVID-19 test kits within six weeks.

Kant said in a tweet: “Inspirational! Delivered test kit before delivering her baby. Meet Minal Dakhave Bhosale, the R&D Chief of Mylab. She led the team that designed India’s first indigenous COID-19 testing kit. Who said women can’t do well in STEM.”

The reference was to Bhosale’s feat of successfully delivering the test kit hours before delivering a baby girl after leading a 10-member team which worked on the kit, ‘Patho Detect’ from February.

Mylab’s Managing Director Hasmukh Rawal said that the kit is the first one to receive commercial approvals from Indian FDA/Central Drugs Standard Control Organisation (CDSCO) and called ‘Mylab Patho Detect COVID-19 Qualitative PCR Kit’.

“Mylab is the only Indian company to have achieved 100 percent sensitivity and 100 percent specificity in the ICMR evaluation. It was developed and evaluated in a record time. It has been made as per WHO/CDC guidelines,” said Rawal.

He commended the support and action from regulator bodies (CDSCO/FDA) ICMR evaluation centre, National Institute of Virology, Biotechnology Industry Research Assistance Council, the centre and state governments during this national emergency.

The kit, described as “a blessing” in medical circles in the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, costs around Rs 1,200 for 100 tests, barely one-fourth the cost of the imported kits, besides reducing the testing time significantly by nearly half to around 150 minutes.

“Since this test is based on the sensitive PCR technology, even early stage infection can be detected, with the highest accuracy as was seen during the ICMR tests, and makes the detection faster,” said Mylab Executive Director Shailendra Kawade.

India currently ranks lowest in terms of testing done per million populations – 6.8 – compared to other countries such as South Korea and Singapore which manage more and more testing.

So far, India has been importing millions of testing kits from Germany but supplies have been hit following the grounding of flights amid the national lockdown.

The company said it can manufacture upto 100,000 kits per week and scale it up further if required at its Pune facilities, and an average lab with automated PCR can test more than 1000 patients daily.

With the time reduction from seven-plus hours to barely 150 minutes, laboratories would be able to do twice the number of tests in the same time on a single machine.

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