In an urgent move towards expanding the coronavirus diagnostics in India, the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) has invited quotations from manufacturers for supply of kits for the testing of COVID-19.
The move comes in the wake of the number of coronavirus cases crossing the 600 mark in the country with 13 deaths recorded so far.
According to the apex health research body, it will procure seven lakh US FDA-EUA/CE-IVD/ICMR-NIV Pune-approved RNA extraction kits.
Any manufacturer with an Indian-based supplier can submit quotations by Thursday 2.30 pm, the ICMR said.
The kits have to be supplied to the ICMR's regional facilities at Mumbai, Delhi, Dibrugarh, Chennai, Hyderabad and Bhopal.
The ICMR has asked the kit manufacturers to quote the prices of the kits, along with the number of tests that can be performed with one kit. It has also sought to know the timeline for the supply of the seven lakh kits.
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"The ICMR has estimated a tentative requirement of 7,00,000 test kits for which quotations are invited. The requirement is to ensure supply as soon as possible. Hence, please quote your maximum supply capability in the first week, along with a firm commitment for subsequent weeks," it said.
It added that it might opt for parallel contracts to more than one vendor to ensure a timely supply.
'New portable COVID-19 test can give results in 50 minutes'
Researchers in the UK have designed a portable smartphone-based coronavirus testing kit which they say can provide results for COVD-19 in just 50 minutes after taking a throat swab.
Most current tests take 24-48 hours to provide results because they need to be sent to labs, noted the researchers from the University of East Anglia (UEA) in the UK, who created the test to be rolled out to test National Health Service (NHS) staff in two weeks.
The new molecular test could be used to process 16 samples at a time -- or up to 384 samples if using a lab-based detection machine, they said.
The test kit aims to help self-isolating medical staff return to work as quickly as possible. And it will also ensure that those at work are not spreading the virus, according to the UEA researchers.
"The idea behind this is that we need to test NHS staff more quickly, so they can stay at work if they are well, or go home if they're a risk to potentially very vulnerable patients," said lead researcher Justin O'Grady, from UEA's Norwich Medical School, which began work on the kit earlier this month.
"We want to move very quickly on this, and hope that it could be rolled out nationally to hospitals in around two weeks," O'Grady said.
The kit works by sequencing the genetic material (RNA) from a throat swab sample using a rapid three minute RNA extraction -- in order to detect the presence of COVID-19.
"The test is simple to use so it could be carried out by a semi-skilled healthcare professional," said O'Grady.
"We hope it could provide additional capacity within the NHS because only those who are definitely ill with COVID-19 would need to self-isolate. And it will help doctors get back to work as quickly as possible once they test negative," he added.