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Thanks to Minal Dakhave Bhosale’s efforts, India now has its first successful coronavirus testing kit. In the current situation, this is a ray of hope.
“Our kit gives the diagnosis in two and a half hours, while the imported testing kits take seven hours,’’ said virologist Minal Dakhave Bhosale in an interview with BBC. She finished the testing kits in ‘’record time’’ at the National Institute of Virology in Pune on 18th March, a mere 24 hours before giving birth to her daughter, the BBC reported.
Bhosale explained in her interview how it was a literal race against the clock especially with her team’s reputation on the line as well as her own complicated pregnancy. Instead of the initial scheduled four months, Bhosale and her team of ten were able to complete their testing kit called Patho Detect in a span of six weeks.
India recently came under criticism for having an inadequate number of testing kits. Only 6.8 people per million have been able to get tested which could mask a high number of COVID-19 cases across the country.
However, with 1.3 billion people on lockdown, these testing kits come at a very significant time as they will now be a lot more accessible to the public. Initially, the imported COVID-19 kits cost a whopping Rs 4500, but will now only cost Rs. 1200 and can test upto 100 samples.
Earlier only state labs were allowed to carry out the trials for the testing but the government is looking to involve more private labs. Fifteen private labs have also attained approval to sell testing kits from European countries and the United States.
According to the Indian Council for Medical Research, MyLab Discovery a firm in Pune has been the only company to achieve 100 percent of consistency of results so far. Minal Dakhave Bhosale explains, “If you carry out 10 tests on the same sample, all 10 results should be the same.” It is also now the first firm to gain full approval to make, supply and sell these kits to the general public.
In addition, the firm has also said that it can make and distribute about 100,000 COVID-19 kits a week. They can even go up to a limit of about 200,000 kits weekly. Dr. Gautham Wankhede, MyLab’s director, for medical affairs said that the manufacturing will be working through the weekend to send out the next batch of kits on Monday.
Bhosale also reflects a lot on the overall state of the healthcare system in the country based on her insights and experiences. India’s slow medical response to COVID-19 also reflects upon its poor healthcare funding and infrastructure, especially in the public sector.
Bhosale believes it is crucial that medical facilities and labs be concentrated in rural areas too. This will help more communities benefit in the future and have greater access to it.
Overall, Minal Dhakave Bhosale’s success story is not only a victory in the shadow that COVID-19 has cast in India. It is also a woman’s story and a powerful celebration of perseverance, persistence and commitment. The story of helping people and making the world a better place even in times of great uncertainty and personal hardship.
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Shivani is currently an undergraduate political science student who is passionate about human rights and
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