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Modi govt approves made-in-India rapid test kits after Chinese supply is delayed




A representational image of a technician handling a sample at laboratory | Anthony Kwan | Bloomberg
A representational image of a technician handling a sample at laboratory | Anthony Kwan | Bloomberg

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New Delhi: Facing delays in the delivery of rapid testing kits from China, the Narendra Modi government has now cleared made-in-India kits, alongside those from other countries like South Korea, Germany and France.

The Indian firms approved to supply these kits are Gujarat-based Voxtur Bio, Delhi-based Vanguard Diagnostics and the government-owned HLL Lifecare.

On 4 April, India’s apex medical research body, ICMR, had approved the use of these tests in areas with a high number of Covid-19 cases (clusters), as well as those with large migration and a high number of evacuees.

Rapid antibody tests are prick-based tests that can detect the presence of coronavirus antibodies. They provide quick results and don’t need to be conducted in laboratories.

Delay in delivery

The government had placed an order for seven lakh kits with Chinese firms, which were supposed to deliver the consignment by 8 April. Overall, ICMR has invited bids for 45 lakh testing kits.

“There is a shortage of cargo planes due to which kits are stuck at ports. Basically, companies are facing logistics issues,” said G.S.K. Velu, chairman and managing director of Chennai-based Trivitron Healthcare, which imports kits from Chinese manufacturers.

“We had placed orders for testing kits from our supplier in China and currently they are facing delays in executing orders. I hope to get them by this week or next,” Velu said.

The delay in deliveries from China is leading to the postponement of the testing drive, which is critical at this juncture when India has crossed 10,000 Covid-19 cases.

Also read: Rajasthan has done 30,000 tests, a reason why it could see more cases: Top health official


New approvals

Apart from the Indian firms, the ICMR and Drug Controller General of India Tuesday approved new testing kit manufacturers from Korea, Germany and France, as well as more Chinese firms.

According to the 8 April list of approved manufacturers, 33 suppliers were approved — 31 Chinese firms, one Korean firm and one from Israel.

In the latest list, dated 14 April, 51 manufacturers have been approved, of which 40 are Chinese, five Korean, one French, one German, one Israeli and three Indian firms.

What happens in a rapid antibody test?

A rapid antibody test shows if a person once infected by the coronavirus has developed immunity to it.

The human body develops two kinds of antibodies — immunoglobulin M (IgM) and immunoglobulin G (IgG). These antibodies remain in the body from between a month to a year, or even longer in some cases.

The IgM antibody arrives within five to seven days of acquiring the infection, whereas IgG arrives later, when the person has recovered. When a person is IgG-positive, it means that the person has been exposed to the infection and their body has developed the immune response.

These tests are relatively cheap compared to the RT-PCR test, which is currently the standard Covid-19 test being carried out in the country. It costs Rs 4,500 to get an RT-PCR test done in a private lab. A rapid antibody test, meanwhile, costs approximately Rs 300.

Also read: ICMR advises ‘pool testing’ in low-infection areas to increase number of Covid-19 tests


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Andhra doctor, suspended for alleging PPE shortage, now beaten by cops for ‘creating nuisance’




doctor with a stethoscope
A doctor with a stethoscope (Representative image) | Pixabay

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Bengaluru: A doctor with a government hospital in Andhra Pradesh, who was suspended for questioning the shortage of PPE kits, was admitted to a mental health facility Sunday, a day after he was allegedly manhandled by the police and arrested for creating nuisance in Visakhapatnam.

Dr Sudhakar Rao, a government civil surgeon, was beaten, his hands tied behind his back and dragged by police officers Sunday. During the incident, Sudhakar allegedly verbally abused the Jagan Mohan Reddy government in an inebriated state. Videos of the incident have since been widely shared online.

“The police control room received a call about a person creating nuisance on Beach Road Hospital in Visakhapatnam. The Fourth Town police was rushed there and found that the person was the suspended doctor, Sudhakar.

“When the police tried to control him, he snatched the mobile phone of an officer and threw it away. He is suffering from mental disorder and he was drunk. He was sent for a medical examination,” Vishakapatnam Police Commissioner R.K. Meena told the media Sunday.

Sudhakar was admitted to a mental hospital Sunday after doctors at the King George Hospital in Vishakapatnam said he suffered from anxiety.

“Since the doctor is in anxiety and talking irrelevant things, I have referred him to a mental care hospital in Visakhapatnam,” said Dr Radha Rani, medical superintendent, King George Hospital.

A statement released by the hospital said: “Dr Sudhakar was brought to the KGH casualty ward at 6.30 pm. From the smell, it was found that he was in a drunk condition. Under the influence of alcohol, he did not cooperate with anybody there and kept abusing all. Still, his pulse, BP were checked. Pulse was 98, BP 140/100. Blood samples were sent to forensic lab to ascertain alcohol content in his blood.”

Also read: 6 toilets for 20 houses, inadequate testing: Why Mumbai’s Worli chawls are a Covid hotspot

‘Treatment towards Sudhakar was inhuman’

Sudhakar, who spent more than 10 years at the Narsipatnam Government Hospital in Andhra Pradesh, was suspended from his duties in March after he openly criticised the Reddy government for failing to provide PPE kits and N95 masks to doctors treating Covid-19 patients.

He had alleged that the state government was giving N95 masks and PPE kits meant for doctors to politicians and the police.

A video of Sudhakar criticising the government was also shared widely. In the clip, he can be heard saying: “We are putting our lives at risk here. We are asked to use the same mask for 15 days and a fresh mask will be provided only twice a month.”

Speaking to ThePrint, Dr P. Gangadhar Rao, member of the National COVID Committee of the Indian Medical Association, said the manner in which Sudhakar was manhandled by the police was “inhuman” and “violated” human rights.

“We strongly condemn the way he was taken into custody. He was not carrying a weapon, he was alone, the number of policemen outnumbered him. Why treat him like that? We also saw a video where a policeman beats him with a lathi,” said Dr Gangadhar.

He added that Rao was one of the most experienced anaesthetists the Andhra Pradesh government had.

“Our next step of action is to get Sudhakar to write an unconditional apology for having used filthy language, abusing the chief minister and the government. We will then take our appeal to the CM seeking that he be reinstated,” Gangadhar said.

Also read: Face shields, gowns, masks — the new attire for cabin crew post lockdown


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