Indian Virologist Minal Bhosale Just Invented The First Covid-19 Home Test Kit

The United States’ Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has given the green signal to biotech company, Moderna, to begin phase 2 of coronavirus vaccine trials.

Minal Bhosale, of the Pune-based Mylab Discovery Solutions, led a team of 10 that designed a new coronavirus home testing kit in a record of six weeks. The following day, the real-life Wonder Woman delivered her baby.

As the number of coronavirus cases steadily rises, India has been criticised from a few quarters for its lack of preparation and less than average healthcare. Due to our initial restrictive testing policy, the country also has one of the lowest testing rates in the world with just 6.8 tests per million.

But as we try to make it through D-5 of the nationwide 21-day lockdown, a home-grown kit could be just the silver lining we’ve been waiting for. And all of this was only made possible because of the determination of one virologist, who delivered a working test kit, just a day before delivering a baby.

Minal Dakhave Bhosale, Research and Development Chief at the Pune-based Mylab Discovery Solutions, led a team of 10 that designed the coronavirus testing kit, called Patho Detect. While designing a test kit usually takes up to three or four months, the Mylab team did it “in a record time” of six weeks, Bhosale told the BBC. “It was an emergency, so I took this on as a challenge. I have to serve my nation.”

Meanwhile, the scientist was dealing with a personal deadline, as well. She started work on the programme back in February, just days after she was discharged from the hospital with a pregnancy complication, the BBC reported.

Minal Dakhave Bhosale delivered a working test kit, just a day before delivering a baby.

But in the end her persistence and the team’s “hard work” paid off.

Bhosale submitted the kit for evaluation to the National Institute of Virology (NIV) on March 18. An hour before she was taken to hospital ahead of her Caesarean delivery that very evening, she also submitted the proposal to the Indian FDA and the drugs control authority CDSCO for commercial approval. A real-life Wonder Woman.

This morning actor Soni Razdan, who has been actively talking about the lockdown and its consequences, took to her personal Instagram to share this #CoronaWarrior’s story.

The only Indian kit to receive approval from FDA and CDSCO reached the market on Thursday, hoping to increase frequency in screening of patients. “Our kit gives the diagnosis in two and a half hours while the imported testing kits take six-seven hours,” Bhosale had said in an interview with Hindustan Times.

However, before submitting the kits for evaluation, the team had to check all parameters to beget accurate results. “If you carry out 10 tests on the same sample, all 10 results should be the same,” Bhosale said. “And we achieved that. Our kit was perfect.”

In fact, the government-run Indian Council for Medical Research (ICMR), under which NIV operates, said that Mylab was the only Indian company to achieve 100 percent results!

The molecular diagnostic company shipped the first batch of 150 testing kits to diagnostic labs in Pune, Mumbai, Delhi, Goa and Bangalore this week.

“Our manufacturing unit is working through the weekend and the next batch will be sent out on Monday,” Dr Gautam Wankhede, Mylab’s Director for Medical Affairs, told BBC on Friday. Mylab can supply up to 100,000 Covid-19 testing kits a week, and if needed, can also produce up to 2,00,000 kits. Each Mylab kit can test 100 samples and costs ₹1,200, roughly a quarter of the R1108.53 ZAR that India pays to import Covid-19 testing kits.

Due to grounded airlines, our dependency on foreign kits have been cut short. However, with the approval for locally sourced kits, laboratories will be able to do twice the number of testings. Take a bow, Miss Bhosale! You are a lifesaver indeed.

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