The Indian government under PM Narendra Modi recently declared that it would discontinue using Chinese-made COVID-19 testing kits, citing reliability issues. Many nations have criticized the testing kids made in China as unreliable.
Now, India is looking to double its COVID-testing capacity to nearly a hundred thousand per day, by the end of May, by boosting its domestic production.
“We will have domestic production of high-quality antibody kits, and also the [RT-PCR] kits for detection of the COVID-19 virus. I think it should be supplied in the next coming weeks, Indian Health Minister Dr Harsh Vardhan said in an online meeting.
The RT-PCR, or reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction, a molecular probe that experts describe the “gold standard” test to identify COVID-19 virus, is carried out by testing a sample from a nasal or throat swab.
Among the Indian pharma organizations sanctioned by the Central Drugs Standard Control Organization to produce test-kits include — Mylab, Medsource Ozone Biomedicals, Voxtur Bio and Alpine Biomedicals.
The Indian government is boosting the local production as many experts have criticized the reliability of rapid antibody kits supplied by two Chinese manufacturers, Guangzhou Wondfo Biotech and Zhuhai Livzon Diagnostics.
The Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) had earlier advised the New Delhi of desisting from the use of COVID-19 testing-kits developed by these two Chinese firms. The ICMR also asked the testing kits to be returned back to Chinese suppliers as the results were highly inaccurate and inconsistent.
Ji Rong, a spokesperson for the Chinese Embassy in India, denounced the decision, saying, “It is unfair and irresponsible for certain individuals to label Chinese products as ‘faulty’ and look at issues with preemptive prejudice.”
New Delhi, however, continues to emphasise that RT-PCR is the most dependable test for the coronavirus, which is now being carried out at almost 400 laboratories pan India.
When India’s first coronavirus case was reported, this test was only carried by one firm and now there are almost 400 labs conducting this vital test, experts talking to EurAsian Times stated.
India needs around two million tests a day if it has to get the level of confidence that is there in the US, said Raghuram Rajan, a noted global economist in a video call with Rahul Gandhi.
Tensions Between US & China Heighten Over Taiwan
Meanwhile, the Modi-government prolonged the lockdown by another two weeks according to the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA). The order was issued under the Disaster Management Act, 2005.
The Modi government has now segregated the country into red zones with “significant risk”; green zones with either zero cases or no confirmed cases in the past 21 days; and those in-between as orange zones.
Red and orange zones will continue to have heightened monitoring, house-to-house inspections, and no movement except for medical emergencies and the supply of essential goods and services. India’s biggest cities including New Delhi, Mumbai, Bengaluru and Chennai have been marked as red zones.