The Feluda paper strip test for Covid-19 diagnosis will be made available in the next few weeks, Health Minister Harsh Vardhan said on Sunday.
The test, developed by Tata group and the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) using the gene editing technology, has been approved by the Drug Controller General of India (DCGI) for a commercial launch.
Private lab tests and trials on more than 2,000 patients at the Institute of Genomics and Integrative Biology have shown higher accuracy in Feluda test, compared to the RT-PCR one, the health ministry statement said.
The minister, while addressing a weekly social media dialogue, warned of increased transmission of coronavirus during the winter season.
He said the government was deliberating the emergency use authorisation of Covid vaccines in India. “Adequate safety and efficacy data is required for emergency use authorisation vaccine approval for ensuring safety of patients. Further course of action will depend on the data generated,” he said.
Very few countries, including China and the UAE, have allowed such emergency authorisation for Covid vaccine. Russia has a temporary registration of its vaccine Sputnik V till January 2021 subject to Phase III trial. If a regulator sees a reasonable likelihood of a drug or vaccine being useful and lives of people under threat if it was not used, it can allow its use for public health emergencies.
The government is planning to roll out the Covid-19 vaccine by prioritising target groups and that the initial supply is expected to be limited, Vardhan said while addressing a weekly social-media dialogue.
He said the prioritisation of groups for Covid-19 vaccine would be based on two key considerations —occupational hazard and risk of exposure to infection, and the risk of developing severe disease and increased mortality. “India is looking at the availability of several different types of vaccines, of which some may be suitable for a particular age group while others may not be.”
Among the three front-runners for Covid vaccine in India, the vaccine by Serum Institute of India and Bharat Biotech requires two doses while the Cadila Healthcare vaccine requires three doses. The government is open to assessing the feasibility of introducing several Covid-19 vaccines in the country as per their availability for the Indian population, Vardhan said.
With the upcoming festive season raising concerns of a wider spread of the disease, the health minister said, “No religion or God says that you have to celebrate in an ostentatious way, that you have to visit pandals and temples and mosques to pray.”