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Chennai Firm Close to Developing First India-Made Coronavirus Test Kits, But 'Govt Nod May Take 2-3 Weeks'

A student demonstrates how to wash hands during an awareness campaign about coronavirus disease (COVID-19), at a school in Chennai. (Image: AP)

A student demonstrates how to wash hands during an awareness campaign about coronavirus disease (COVID-19), at a school in Chennai. (Image: AP)

Dr GSK Velu, chairman and managing director of Trivitron Healthcare Group, said the kits made by the company would be half the price of their imported counterparts.

Chennai: Amid concerns over low testing of suspected Coronavirus cases in India, Chennai-based Trivitron Healthcare Group is pitted to be the first Indian manufacturer to have developed a testing kit for the virus.

However, it may take another 2-3 weeks for the kits to enter the market as they would have to first undergo testing at a government-approved facility.

Speaking to News18, Dr GSK Velu, chairman and managing director of Trivitron, said the company has been working on the development of the kit for the last one month and has achieved substantial success in research and development.

The central government is reported to have ordered a million testing kits from Germany as it prepares to ramp up its diagnostic and testing mechanism to meet the rising number of cases.

But till now, it has been dependent on importing testing kits and efforts have also been hampered by stock getting stuck because of airlines lockdown. Local manufacturing of the testing kits would offer a big boost.

Coronavirus has so far caused three deaths in the country and infected at least 126 people. Many experts fear the number of infected people may be much higher, but the government has simply failed to detect them because of its limited testing.

Dr Velu assured that the kits made by the company would be half the price of their imported counterparts. He said the firm plans to sell these kits at Rs 500 to 1000 per test depending on volumes.

However, there is still no clarity on whether the kits would be sold to private hospitals and labs or only to government centres. Media reports have said that the government will allow 50 to 60 private labs accredited by the National Accreditation Board for Laboratories (NABL) to do the tests in the next days.

“We still don’t have directions and guidance from the government in this regard,” Dr Velu, however, told News18.

He said the kit developed by the company would be in compliance with global regulatory standards and can be used for all five sample types recommended by NIV/ WHO for COVID-19 diagnosis. The virus can be diagnosed by either a swab test, a nasal aspirate, a tracheal aspirate, a sputum test or a blood test.

The company’s chairman said they have the capacity to manufacture up to 750,000 tests kits per day and also expressed confidence that they can be exported in the coming weeks. “If our kits comply with established guidelines and we have proper regulatory approvals, we will definitely be able to supply these kits to different countries,” he said.