In a bid to ramp up the current testing capacity for COVID-19 in India, orders have been placed for nearly 6.3 million (63 lakh) RT-PCR testing kits. A senior Health Ministry official told news agency ANI that the country’s target is to test 5.3 million (53 lakh) people in the coming months. Therefore, slightly excess kits have been ordered as backups in case the test kits malfunction.
RT-PCR kits have been ordered from companies in South Korea, Germany, the USA, and China. The health officials expect the first batch of kits to arrive in India after May 10 while the rest will be supplied in a phased manner.
India has ordered the test kits from 'Seegene' and 'SD Biosensor' in South Korea, 'Altona Diagnostic' in Germany, 'Life Technologies' in the USA, and 'Shanghai Forum' in China. Out of these companies, South Korea's SD Biosensor has received a repeat order after the products fulfilled India's initial requirement of RT-PCR test kits.
"To ramp up our testing speed, we have given immediate orders for about 63 Lakh RT-PCR kits as per our requirement. We are hoping to receive it within this month," the senior Health Ministry official said.
The Central government has taken up the responsibility of assisting State governments with testing kits. However, they are also free to procure the kits on their own, to increase testing in their respective States. Some states have taken up steps in this direction. The Department of Health Research (DHR) has assessed the requirement of 35 lakhs manual RT-PCR kits for which probes, primers, and master mix have been ordered.
Recently, India had received material for about 16.4 lakh tests apart from the current order of 6.3 million test kits to be sourced from abroad. A further order of two lakh kits was placed with domestic manufacturers as well, which are still awaited. Further, the DHR has ordered 2 lakh Roche's COBAS test kits, of which 60,000 kits have arrived and rest are awaited. These are high-speed testing kits.
On Saturday, the news agency reported that the DHR had crossed over one million RT-PCR tests for COVID-19. Till date, the ICMR has conducted 10,46,450 tests.