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Meet the woman behind India's first covid testing kit

Minal Dakhave Bhosale developed India's first Covid kit in just six weeks.

ET Online|
Last Updated: Mar 28, 2020, 01.12 PM IST
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Coronavirus
Each Mylab kit can test 100 samples and costs Rs 1,200, about a quarter of the Rs 4,500 that India pays to import testing kits from abroad.
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In what may go down as a crucial benchmark in India's fight against the Covid-19 virus, a Pune-based diagnostic firm developed the country's first testing kit this week.

With just 6.8 tests per million, one of the lowest rates in the world, India has been criticized for not testing enough. Now, this home-grown test kit could be the breakthrough the country needed. All this was made possible because of the efforts of one virologist, who delivered on a working test kit, hours before delivering her baby.


The woman behind it all

Under Mylab's research and development chief, Minal Dakhave Bhosale, the coronavirus testing kit called Patho Detect, was developed in just six weeks, the BBC reported.

The scientist was also battling with another deadline-- last week she gave birth to a baby girl. Bhosale began work on the programme in February, just days after leaving hospital with pregnancy complications.

"It was an emergency, so I took this on as a challenge. I had to serve my nation," she said, adding that her team of 10 worked "very hard" to make the project a success.

Agencies
Mylabs
Photo Credit: MyLab Discovery Solutions
In the end, she submitted the kit to the National Institute of Virology (NIV) for evaluation on March 18th, just a day before delivering her daughter.

First made-in-India Covid test

India's first coronavirus testing kit hit Indian markets on Thursday, in a bid to increase frequency of testing and to confirm or rule out the Covid-19 infection. "Our kit gives the diagnosis in two and a half hours while the imported testing kits take six-seven hours," Bhosale said in an interview with Hindustan Times.

Mylabs Discovery Solutions, which received statutory approvals late on Monday from authorities, can manufacture over 15,000 testing kits per day from its facility at Lonavala in Pune district and the same will be ramped up to 25,000 kits per day.

Mylab shipped the first batch of 150 to diagnostic labs in Pune, Mumbai, Delhi, Goa and Bengaluru (Bangalore) this week. "Our manufacturing unit is working through the weekend and the next batch will be sent out on Monday," Dr Gautam Wankhede, Mylab's director for medical affairs, told BBC.

The molecular diagnostic company, which also makes testing kits for HIV and Hepatitis B and C, and other diseases, says it can supply up to 100,000 Covid-19 testing kits a week and can produce up to 200,000 if needed.

Each Mylab kit can test 100 samples and costs Rs 1,200, about a quarter of the Rs 4,500 that India pays to import testing kits from abroad.

Initially, India insisted on testing only those who had traveled to high-risk countries or had come in contact with an infected person or health workers treating coronavirus patients. It later said that anyone admitted to hospital with severe respiratory distress would also be tested.

In the past few days, India has scaled up testing. Initially, only the state labs were allowed to test for coronavirus, but permission has now been extended to several private labs too.

India now has well over 800 positive cases of coronavirus, but with the circle of infection widening daily, the numbers are expected to rise further.
(Catch all the Business News, Breaking News Events and Latest News Updates on The Economic Times.)

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