Mumbai: In what may go down as an important solution in India’s fight against coronavirus, Pune-based Mylabs Discovery Solutions has created an indigenous solution to test patients for COVID-19 that can halve the time taken for results. The molecular diagnostic company, which received statutory approvals late on Monday from authorities, can manufacture over 15,000 testing kits per day from its facility at Lonavala in Pune district and the same will be ramped up to 25,000 kits per day, its co-founder Shrikant Patole told PTI.
Citing the experience in South Korea, the World Health Organisation has been stressing on the importance of tests to fight the pandemic, which has so far claimed nine lives in India.
Though around 500 people have been tested positive for the virus in India so far, experts are bracing for a sharp increase fearing it may have spread across and also point out to a low level of testing in the country.
Mr. Patole explained that the company is able to shorten the test time to 2.5 hours with the ‘Mylab PathoDetect COVID-19 Qualitative PCR kit’ as against the prevalent 6-8 hours because its team has created a solution that does both the screening and confirmation jobs simultaneously.
Its team of 25 scientists started working on the solution six weeks ago, fearing that the crisis may eventually hit India, he said, adding that the company had started as a trading firm in 2012 and diversified into research in 2016.
The test for COVID-19 will also pick up positive cases among asymptomatic patients, Mr. Patole said, adding that the approvals from the National Institute of Virology, Indian Council of Medical Research and Central Drugs Standard Control Organization (CDSCO) were received after a test sampling on patients at Mumbai’s Kasturba Hospital which is the nodal location for treating Coronavirus cases.
He did, however, specify the sample size where the kit was used to confirm results. The Mylab kit was selected along with a solution offered by a German company for the tests.
Mr. Patole explained that till now, India has been using kits prepared by the state-run National Institute of Virology (NIV), also based in Pune, but it was the fears over the increase in numbers which made private sector interventions in manufacturing necessary.
The testing kits done by NIV are costing up to Rs 4,500 per sample if we include both screening and confirmation, Mr. Patole said, claiming that Mylabs is confident of selling the kits at a fourth of that cost. He said allowing private labs to conduct tests is essential given the potential threats.
Mr. Patole also said that its kit can work within the infrastructure for testing available with Indian diagnostic labs, and does not require any new machinery, which the most imported. The company is in the process of creating similar test kits for HIV, hepatitis-B and also tuberculosis. A team of four founders and investors have invested over Rs. 25 crore in the company till now and there are no external investors, Mr. Patole said. The company is looking to rope in investors, he added.