It was as recently as 12 March when Ram Pramod Tiwari began work on a rapid antibody test to detect Covid-19. By 25 March, claims Tiwari, he and his team of two lab assistants had a sample kit ready to be vetted by the National Institute of Virology (NIV) in Pune, Maharashtra. Tiwari is the technical director of Vanguard Diagnostics, a five-year-old, Delhi-based diagnostics manufacturer. Vanguard’s rapid antibody test is one of the few kits approved for usage by NIV.
No rapid results in India’s race for rapid testing kits
India’s entering a new, more aggressive phase of the Covid-19 pandemic control. Rapid antibody tests will be crucial, both as screening and epidemiological tool. Diagnostic companies see a golden opportunity but none yet are close to delivering the massive numbers that India needs
Rapid antibody tests are the newest weapon in India’s response to the Covid-19 pandemic. Except they’re in short supply globally
The sharp rise in infections has increased the need for testing at scale. PCR kits, expensive and difficult to use, can’t get the job done
But ICMR’s approval process is a bottleneck for manufacturers. They’re trying to circumvent the process by sourcing globally
Rapid kits are the new Covid-19 gold rush. But manufacturers still aren’t close to delivering them in sizeable numbers