COVID-19 Test Kits in India May See 13x Increase as Serum Institute Invests in MyLab

Serum Institute, the world's largest vaccine producer, is helping the Pune-based MyLab ramp up production to 2 million test kits per week.

Adar Poonawalla

Fake blood is seen in test tubes labelled with the coronavirus (COVID-19) in this illustration.

MyLab Laboratories, the biotechnology company that received government approval to produce COVID-19 test kits in a bid to ramp up testing in India, has received an undisclosed amount of investment from Serum Institute of India, the world's largest producer of vaccines by doses taken. The partnership is targeted at scaling up the production of COVID-19 test kits as well as expanding the lab's molecular diagnostic solutions capability. According to a statement shared by the firm with News18, MyLab will be ramping up production of COVID-19 test kits from 1.5 lac units per week presently, up to 20 lac (2 million) units per week within the "next few weeks".

Adar Poonawalla, chief executive of the Serum Institute of India, further stated that with the ramping up of production, the shortage of COVID-19 test kits in India will end "in a month or two". Earlier this week, MyLab Laboratories announced that it has received clearance from the government of India to supply test kits that will help detect more COVID-19 cases in the country, and help authorities understand at which stage of the coronavirus pandemic is our nation at. The test kits have been priced at Rs 1,200, which is significantly lower than the Rs 4,500 pricing mark that they were previously pegged at.

In an interview with News18, Dr. Gautam Wankhede, director of medical affairs at MyLab Laboratories, revealed that the entire process of developing the COVID-19 test kits took about six weeks, despite challenges such as limited availability of samples and high specificity required in the process. However, sharing an optimistic outlook in terms of the medical research and pharmaceutical sectors of India, Wankhede said, "If you look at the adjunct industries, for example, pharmaceuticals and biologics, the presence of world-class companies, in both manufacturing and development is evident of the conducive ecosystem. A good example is of Biocon."

The MyLab COVID-19 test kit has received clearance and approval from the Indian Food and Drug Administration, the Central Drugs Standard Control Organisation (CDSCO) and the Indian Council for Medical Research (ICMR), and over the coming two weeks, will see the introduction of new production lines that should increase the supply of test kits all across the healthcare sectors of India.

Source: News 18 (2th April 2020)