‘India needs 35 lakh Covid-19 testing kits’

Maitri Porecha New Delhi | Updated on May 04, 2020 Published on May 04, 2020

The Centre has placed orders for 2.2 crore personal protective equipment   -  AP

Centre has placed orders for 21 lakh kits in global market: Empowered panel chief

India has a projected demand of 35 lakh Covid-19 testing kits for conducting reverse transcriptase polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) tests of suspect cases, said PD Vaghela, Chairman of Empowered Group for Production and Procurement of Medical Supplies.

Vaghela, who is also Secretary, Department of Pharmaceuticals, said 13.75 lakh kits have been received by the Centre, while the balance 21.35 lakh, which have been ordered from international markets, are yet to arrive,. The domestic industry is supplying two lakh kits.

Pharma major Roche had supplied two diagnostic machines which can process 1,400 samples per day per machine to the Centre, and out of a demand of 8 lakh customised kits for these machines, India has currently placed an order for two lakh kits and built capacity as per 60,000 received kits as of now.

Primer shortage

India is largely dependent on manual RT-PCR techniques too, and is facing shortage of primers, which are specific sequences of DNA designed to recognise complementary virus sequences. There is a need for 35 lakh primers, of which 25 lakh have been ordered and 22 lakh have been received. Another component required for manual RT-PCR is a master mix. The Centre needs 35 lakh of these and currently has only a stock of 16.4 lakh.

Also, 19,398 ventilators are available as on date, against a total demand of 75,000.

“We have ordered 60,884 ventilators of which we are only importing 1,000. In terms of domestic supply, we are in the process of procuring 30,000 ventilators from BEL and Skanray, 10,000 from Maruti Suzuki and AgVa as well as 13,500 ventilators from Andhra Pradesh Medical Tech Zone. Because there is a global shortage of spare parts and machinery we are attempting to boost local production,” said Vaghela said that testing of the first lot of ventilators manufactured by four companies is currently under way.

As far as personal protective equipment like coveralls, masks, goggles is concerned, the projected demand is 2.01 crore PPE kits. “We have ordered up to 2.22 crore PPEs, of which 1.42 crore are domestic orders placed with 107 manufacturers. Our domestic production capacity as on April 30 is 1.87 lakh per day. We have currently received 17,37 lakh kits and in next two months will receive up to 1.15 crore kits. 80 lakh kits will be imported,” Vaghela said.

Similarly, the projected demand for N-95 and N-99 masks is 2.72 crore, and the Centre has placed orders for 2.49 crore masks. “Of these 1.49 crore are domestic orders, and we have received 49.12 lakh masks till date. Domestic manufacturing capacity is 2.3 lakh masks per day as on date. Additional domestic supply of 1.40 crore will be generated in the next two months while one crore masks will be imported,” he said.

Also, the Centre has assigned 130 districts to Red Zone on the basis of the high number of cumulative cases and shorter doubling time, extent of testing and surveillance feedback. 284 districts are in the Orange Zone, whereas 319 cases are in the Green Zone, which have not reported any case in past 21 days.

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Published on May 04, 2020
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