In a move that indicates India is readying for massive novel coronavirus (COVID-19) testing, Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) has sought price quotes for the supply of 10 lakh antibody kits (serological test) for diagnosis of COVID-19. It will also procure 7 lakh RNA extraction kits, for a method which is currently used for COVID-19 testing in the country.
The decision marks a clear shift in India's approach towards COVID-19 testing as ICMR, which is spearheading the coronavirus diagnosis efforts, has till March 25 tested only 25,144 samples from 24,254 individuals. As per the body, the number of positive cases has touched 581 so far.
The agency has invited kit manufacturers to quote their prices. It has also asked them about supply timeline and capacity available for COVID-19 testing kits that are approved by ICMR or international authorities like USFDA and EUA.
The quotes should reach ICMR on March 26. The supply locations for the test kits are Dibrugarh, Mumbai, Chennai, Hyderabad, Bhopal and Delhi. The ICMR letter says the requirement is to ensure the supply as soon as possible.
In addition to over a 100 government laboratories that have been approved for the COVID-19 testing, the health ministry has recently roped in close to 30 private laboratories with over 17,000 collection centres all over the country to carry out COVID-19 tests based on the ICMR protocols.
The laboratories are in the process of procuring the test kits and readying themselves for scaling up testing capabilities. The ICMR has also indicated that it might go for parallel contracts to more than one vendors to ensure timely supply.