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India Now Has Its Own Affordable Coronavirus Test

Starting Tuesday midnight, India went under a complete lockdown which will continue for 21 days—even as the number of confirmed coronavirus cases in the world’s second most populated country climbed to more than 562 with 11 fatalities.

While this number might not seem nearly as high as the one in some of the other, more developed nations battling the contagious COVID-19 pandemic, many experts have attributed this to low testing.

Due to its lack of adequate testing kits, there were concerns about those who showed symptoms or who had come back from affected countries but didn’t show symptoms not being given the test and instead asked for self-isolate, despite the World Health Organisation urging all countries to ramp up their testing efforts.

This was followed by many doctors saying they had to prioritize who could take the test.

As of March 21, India had only tested 14,811 people and had one of the lowest testing rates in the world. Thankfully, the government has opened up private testing facilities, with the Pune-based Mylabs solution becoming the first private lab to develop a relatively inexpensive and efficient homegrown test.

While diagnostic tests for COVID-19 are largely reliant on foreign companies, several labs in India had applied to the National Institute of Virology (NIV), Pune, for getting their own kits vetted. Earlier this week, many private sector players were asked to step in because of fears over the numbers of those getting affected increasing exponentially.

The Mylabs kits have been developed in a record speed of six weeks and will reduce the cost of testing toa fourth of what it is of about Rs. 4,500 per testing kit.

The newly-developed kits ‘Mylab PathoDetect COVID-19 Qualitative PCR’ would also be able to cut short the test time to two-and-a-half hours for a test that currently takes about 6-8 hours.

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