A South Korean firm has started manufacturing rapid testing kits for Covid-19 in Haryana’s Manesar district, the Indian embassy in South Korea said on Tuesday. On the same day, the Indian Council of Medical Research had asked states to stop using rapid testing kits procured from China for two days, after complaints about defects.
Indian Ambassador to South Korea Sripriya Ranganathan visited the manufacturing facility of SD Biosensor – a global bio-diagnostic company – on Tuesday and met the firm’s chairperson, Young-shik Cho, the embassy said.
The firm has the capacity to produce 5 lakh testing kits per week, the embassy said in a tweet. “This [production capacity] will be further enhanced in coming weeks to meet growing demand,” it said.
The Indian embassy said that the firm will help meet both domestic and international demand for testing kits. “The first batch [of testing kits] was rolled out on April 19,” the embassy said in a statement. “This is an excellent example of India’s ‘Make in India for the World’ as the company plans to ramp up production to meet the growing demand in India as well as other parts of the world.”
Last week, Chhattisgarh cabinet minister TS Singh Deo had said that the state will procure testing kits from the company. “We are procuring 75,000 high quality rapid testing kits at a benchmark price of Rs 337 + Goods and Services Tax from a South Korean company based in India, which has proven to be the lowest bidder,” he had said. “The rate we have been able to close at is the lowest in India.”
Responding to his tweet, the ambassador had said, “So glad to know that this has fructified, Sir! We stand ready to support you and all other Indian agencies in whatever way possible.”
On Tuesday, The Indian Council of Medical Research had advised states to not use rapid testing kits for Covid-19 for two days following complaints about inaccurate detection from some states. ICMR had said that it would examine the defects in the kits and get back to the states with a report.
Last week, India had received 5 lakh testing kits from China. ICMR had said that the testing kits were not meant for early diagnosis of Covid-19 but only for epidemiology.
In India, nasal or throat swabs of suspected Covid-19 patients are put through the RT-PCR or reverse transcriptase polymerase chain reaction test. This test looks for the presence of the Covid-19 virus in the patient’s DNA. It is a complex test that takes between 12-24 hours to show results. In comparison, the antibody tests – scanning of blood samples for infection – show results within 45 minutes to two hours. They are less reliable since antibodies show up only 7-10 days after a person has been infected.
As of Wednesday evening, India has reported 20,472 cases of Covid-19, including 652 deaths and 3,959 recoveries, according to the Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare.