India is tapping sources other than China to meet its rapid test kits requirements. Union Health Minister Dr Harsh Vardhan has said that India will achieve self-reliance with respect to the production of indigenous rapid testing and RT-PCR diagnostic kits by the end of May.
However looking at other options to procure rapid testing kits, New Delhi has ordered a first batch from South Korea, and more kits will be procured from Germany, Canada and Japan. The consignments of at least five lakh kits is expected to arrive from South Korea’s Humasis Ltd in four batches starting 30 April, 2020.
The Indian Council of Medical Research was forced to recall the rapid antibody testing kits procured from China due to meager five percent accuracy rate of these kits.
Many startups in different parts of the country have got completely indigenously-built testing technologies and capabilities validated, while a few others are in the final stages of approval. These kits will also cost just about Rs 900 to Rs 1,200 per patient, as against Rs 4,500 that is currently the cost of a test in the country. Some of these have also started manufacturing and scaling up.
Meanwhile in a setback, the first samples of state-owned HLL Lifecare Ltd’s indigenous rapid antibody test kits that was sent to Kerala has failed quality tests.
India has so far depended on China or other countries purely because it was ill-prepared to manufacture anything in bulk quantity till now. But if domestic production picks up successfully we can become self reliant in testing kits.