Ever since the first case of COVID-19 was confirmed in India, we have been criticised for not testing enough. There were reports that India doesn't have sufficient number of testing kits.
A breakthrough was achieved on Thursday, 26th March, when Mylab Discovery, a Pune-based diagnostic company, received the approval to make and sell COVID-19 testing kits. It is the first Indian firm to get the permission.
This kit was developed in a record time of 6 weeks under the leadership of a virologist, Minal Dakhave Bhosale.
Minal was in the last lap of her pregnancy in February, when she started working on the testing kit. Despite having several pregnancy complications, she continued with her work and submitted the kit for evaluation by the National Institute of Virology on 18th March, a day before delivering her daughter.
In an interview with BBC, Minal said:
It was an emergency, so I took this on as a challenge. I have to serve my nation.
She and her team in fact submitted the proposal to the Indian FDA and CDSCO for commercial approval the same evening when she was taken to the hospital for delivery.
Dr. Gautam Wankhede, Mylab's Director for medical affairs, told BBC:
We were running against time. Our reputation was at stake, we had to get everything right on the first go, and Minal was leading our efforts from the front.
Each of these kits can test 100 samples and costs ₹1,200.
Mylab has shipped the first batch of 150 testing kits to diagnostic labs in Pune, Mumbai, Delhi, Goa and Bengaluru as of now and the company is working to prepare more kits in the coming week.