Pregnant scientist develops India's first Covid-19 testing kit

  • News Desk,
    Published: 2020-03-29 11:12:14 BdST

Photo credit: Dakhave Bhosle

India has developed its first coronavirus testing kit in just six weeks amid criticism for its poor record of testing people in the battle against the deadly virus.

The first "made-in-India" testing kits reached the market on Thursday, thanks in large part to the efforts of one virologist, who delivered on a working test kit, just hours before delivering her baby, the BBC reports.

Mylab Discovery, in the western city of Pune, became the first Indian firm to get full approval to make and sell testing kits. It shipped the first batch of 150 to diagnostic labs in Pune, Mumbai, Delhi, Goa and Bengaluru this week, according to the report.


Under Mylab's research and development chief, Minal Dakhave Bhosale, it took only six weeks to deliver the coronavirus testing kit called Patho Detect.

The scientist was also battling with another deadline -- last week she gave birth to a baby girl. Bhosale began work on the programme in February, just days after leaving hospital with pregnancy complications.

"It was an emergency, so I took this on as a challenge. I had to serve my nation," she told the BBC, adding that her team of 10 worked "very hard" to make the project a success.

In the end, she submitted the kit for evaluation by the National Institute of Virology (NIV) on 18 March, just a day before delivering her daughter.


India's first working testing kit hit has lifted hopes of an increase in the frequency of testing to confirm or rule out the Covid-19 infection.

"Our kit gives the diagnosis in two and a half hours while the imported testing kits take six-seven hours," Bhosale said in an interview with the Hindustan Times.

Mylabs Discovery Solutions, 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.

The molecular diagnostic company, which also makes testing kits for HIV and Hepatitis B and C, and other diseases, says it can supply up to 100,000 Covid-19 testing kits a week and can produce up to 200,000 if needed.

Each Mylab kit can test 100 samples and costs Rs 1,200, about a quarter of the Rs 4,500 that India pays to import testing kits from abroad.

Initially, India insisted on testing only those who had travelled to high-risk countries or had come in contact with an infected person or health workers treating coronavirus patients. It later said that anyone admitted to hospital with severe respiratory distress would also be tested.

India now has well over 800 positive cases of coronavirus, but with the circle of infection widening daily, the numbers are expected to rise further.