Meet the Woman Who Raced Against Time to Develop India's First Home-Grown Covid-19 Testing Kit

With India facing heat for its low testing rates, a new development can help scale up the country’s testing capacity for the novel coronavirus. On Thursday, indigenous testing kits created by a Pune-based diagnostic-company Mylabs Discovery Solutions, were made available in the markets, BBC reported.

"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 was quoted as saying by BBC.

The World Health Organisation has been emphasising on the importance of increasing testing to contain the spread of novel coronavirus, which has, so far, claimed 19 lives in India. As coronavirus cases climbed to 873 on Friday, experts are cautioning against a further spike. Against this backdrop, the home-grown kits are being viewed as a key breakthrough.

A woman-led programme

Minal Dakhave Bhosale, a virologist who led the team, raced against time to create the Patho Detect testing kit for coronavirus. The kit, which would have taken three to four months for completion, was developed in six weeks, the BBC report said.

Besides managing to beat the clock, Bhosale also powered through a personal battle. She had given birth to her baby only last week. She had only started working on the creation of the kits in February, at a time when complications relating to her pregnancy had just surfaced. Despite these obstacles, she soldered on.

"It was an emergency, so I took this on as a challenge. I had to serve my nation," Bhosale told BBC.

She successfully presented the kit for evaluation by the National Institute of Virology (NIV) on 18 March, a day before she delivered her baby. That very day, just an hour before she was taken to the hospital for her delivery, she submitted the proposal to the Indian FDA and the drugs control authority CDSCO seeking commercial approval, the report added.

Mylabs Kits Priced at Rs 1,200

The diagnostic firm has said that it is capable of proving up to 100,000 Covid-19 testing kits per week and can produce up to 200,000 if required, the report said. A Mylab kit can test 100 samples at a price of Rs 1,200, which is almost a fourth of the Rs 4,500 which the Indian government is presently paying to import the Covid-19 testing kids from abroad.