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New Delhi, April 23, 2020
India is importing six SUV-sized high-speed testing machines for COVID-19, which are in high demand, from Swiss firm Roche Diagnostics in the US.
The import is being facilitated by the Ministry of External Affairs, which is also coordinating India's collaboration with foreign agencies in research and development efforts related to Covid-19, official sources said.
Roche's Cobas SARS-CoV-2 test provides "reliable and high-quality results for clinical decision-making for the improved management of COVID-19 patients and to reduce the risk of SARS-CoV-2 (coronavirus) infection."
Cobas 6800 can run up to 384 tests in an 8-hour shift and 1,536 tests in 24 hours, with only three user interactions per run and up to 8 hours of walk-away time, the firm claims.
The upgraded model, Cobas 8800 System, as per Roche, can run up to 960 tests in an 8-hour shift and 4,032 tests in 24 hours, with only three user interactions and up to four hours of walk-away time per run.
Official sources said India's research and development labs are in touch with labs in Israel and Germany, which are undertaking cutting edge work.
The ministry facilitated the arrangements for an Indian subsidiary of a South Korean company, SD Biosensor, to start production of COVID-19 rapid anti-body testing kits in its plant in Manesar, Haryana, with a capacity of 5 lakh tests per week.
The first batch has already been rolled out on April 19, sources said, adding that the company will ramp up production to meet the growing demand in India as well as other parts of the world.
The Indian mission has also signed a contract on behalf of ICMR with another South Korean company to procure and supply 5 lakh coronavirus testing kits.
In the last two weeks, sources said, around 2 dozen flights departed for India from 5 cities in China carrying nearly 400 tonnes of medical supplies, including RT-PCR test kits, rapid antibody testing kits, PPE kits, thermometers etc.
Around 20 more flights are expected to bring supplies from China in the coming days, sources said, adding that the supplies are likely to be stepped up considerably in the next few months.