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.
Getting this approval amid a nationwide lockdown wasn’t easy. Vanguard had to obtain special passes to transport the kit samples by autorickshaw to the Delhi airport.