India has developed its very own indigenous COVID-19 Testing Kits and behind this success is a formidable woman, a virologist, Minal Dakhave Bhosale. She led a team of 25 scientists at MyLab Discovery, a Pune-based diagnostic firm, to develop, design and deliver testing kits in record time. MyLab Discovery also produces testing kits for HIV and other infectious diseases and is the first firm in the country to make approved COVID-19 testing kits available to the public.
Minal Dakhave Bhosale is the chief of research and development at MyLabs. The team began work on developing COVID-19 testing kits six weeks back. Due to the shortage of imported testing kits and high costs associated with them, the team had tremendous pressure to develop made-in-India testing kits in minimum time but with 100% results. The team worked tirelessly to produce kits which are 100% accurate and also cost extremely cost-effective. All this was being done while Minal was pregnant and was due to deliver her baby within weeks. In her own words, she wanted to serve her country in the time of this emergency. She took it as a challenge to deliver the kits as soon as possible while managing her pregnancy amidst the pressure.
The results have been exceptional. While an imported COVID-19 testing kit costs Rs.4500, the Indian COVID-19 testing kits cost only Rs.1200 for 100 samples. The effective cost is Rs.12 per sample. The testing kits are now available to the public and have reached major cities where the outbreak of the virus is rapidly spreading. Normally developing a new testing kit with 100% accuracy takes between 3 to 4 months but the team at MyLab took only six weeks to make the kits available with approval. The kits were submitted for evaluation from the National Institute of Virology (NIV), which works under the Indian Council for Medical Research (ICMR), on 18th March. On the same day, the kits were submitted for commercial approvals to Indian FDA and India’s Central Drugs Standard Control Organization. MyLabs Discovery will be able to produce 1,00,000 kits per week and is ready to double the production if needed.
Cost as well as quantity is an important factor for COVID-19 testing kits in a country like India with a huge population. These indigenous testing kits provide a breakthrough for our country which has been criticized for its low testing rates, 6.8 tests per million, leaving a lot of cases undiscovered. With the new testing kits, the testing of the samples from people with flu-like symptoms can be increased and thus the spread of the virus can be curbed.
For her efforts, Minal Dkhave Bhosale is getting praises from all corners. Anand Mahindra, Amitabh Kant and Kiran Mazumdar Shaw have acknowledged the efforts of Minal and her team on social media, bringing attention to the importance of having indigenous testing kits. Women in India and around the globe are actively partaking in the fight against the deadly virus with vigour. It goes to prove that women participation in all walks of life is important for advancement and prosperity.