129 Govt Labs and a Med-Tech factory at Vizag become functional: Centre

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The Union Health Minister Dr Harsh Vardhan informed that he had a discussion in the morning with Health Ministers of the States/UTs about the actions being taken and lauded their active surveillance, effective contact tracing and their preparedness for containment and management of COVID-19.

According to a PIB report, Director General, Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) that 129 government laboratories including the Centre for Cellular and Molecular Biology (CCMB) at Hyderabad have become functional across the country with a testing capacity of 13000 tests per day along with 49 NABL accredited private lab.

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The private chains have around 16000 collection centres. It was also informed that adequate test kits have been procured and disseminated across the States for any further eventualities. He was also informed that Rapid Antibody test kits are also ordered. As of now, 38,442 tests have been done with 1,334 tests in private labs across the country, he said

Further discussions were held with the three Secretaries of the Ministry of Science & Technology about the status of research into developing solutions for handling COVID-19.

Secretary DST, Dr Ashutosh Sharma informed that through mapping of the COVID-19 related technology capabilities in start-ups, academia, R&D Labs and industry, over 500 entities in the areas of diagnostics, drugs, ventilators, protection gear, disinfecting systems, etc. have been identified. Over 200 proposals have been received in the last one week against the funding calls of DST, from which over 20 entities are under active consideration for support in the first phase, taking into account the relevance, cost, speed and scale of solutions to manage COVID-19.

Secretary DBT Dr Renu Swarup informed that the Department of Biotechnology has formed a Consortium to support the development of Medical equipment, Diagnostics, Therapeutics, Drugs and Vaccines to meet the Healthcare Challenges. She stated that the manufacturing capacity of the First Indigenous kit developed by Startup in Pune is being scaled up to produce nearly one lakh kits per week.

“A manufacturing facility for indigenous development of Ventilators, testing kits, imaging equipment and ultrasound and high-end radiology equipment has been set up in Vishakhapatnam where manufacturing will start in the first week of April. DBT along with Drug Controller General of India has developed and notified a Rapid Response Regulatory Framework to provide expedited regulatory approvals for all diagnostics drugs and vaccines. Vaccine development is being supported by three Indian industries. Research on Therapeutic and drug development has started.

DG, CSIR Dr Shekhar Mande informed that CSIR is working on a five-pronged strategy to find S&T solutions for COVID-19, comprising of: Surveillance using digital and molecular methods which includes genome sequencing of the virus strains across the country; Cheaper, fast and accurate diagnosis methods; intervention strategies comprising of repurposing drugs and developing new drugs etc.; R&D in Hospital assistive equipment; and, development of Supply chain logistics models for items required for COVID-19 mitigation. He informed that in all the points mentioned above, CSIR has forged collaborations with the private sector.