India to produce 10 lakh testing-kits next month: Health Ministry
The Ministry of Health and Family Welfare on Friday said that India plans to manufacture 10 lakh testing kits a month for the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) staring May. India is also looking forward to producing vaccines against the disease, the Ministry said adding that the growth rate of the outbreak has declined by 40%. Here are more details.
Health Ministry Joint Secretary Lav Agarwal said that India had reported 13,387 COVID-19 cases till Thursday, including 1,749 recoveries (13.06%). The total cases also include 437 deaths. 1,007 new cases and 23 new deaths were reported in the past 24 hours, Agarwal said. He said the ratio of COVID-19 recoveries to deaths in India is 4:1 which is better than many other nations.
Since the press briefing, the Health Ministry has updated the total cases to 13,835, including 452 deaths, 11,616 active cases, 1,766 recoveries and one patient who migrated out of India. The figures were updated at 5 pm on Friday.
Agarwal said the doubling rate of COVID-19 cases is now 6.2 days, considerably better than 3 days before the nationwide lockdown. He said the doubling rate is lower than the national average in 19 states and Union Territories: Andhra Pradesh, Assam, Bihar, Chandigarh, Delhi, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Jammu and Kashmir, Karnataka, Kerala, Ladakh, Odisha, Puducherry, Punjab, Tamil Nadu, Telangana, Tripura, Uttar Pradesh, and Uttarakhand.
The growth factor of the outbreak—which Agarwal described as new cases against previous day's cases—has been 1.2 since April 1. Agarwal said the growth factor stood at 2.1 from March 15-31. "The growth factor has declined by 40% despite an increase in testing," he said.
Agarwal said that India is aiming to produce 10 lakh RT-PCR kits per month in May. The kits are used for COVID-19 diagnosis. He also said India will manufacture an equal amount of rapid antibody testing kits, to be used for surveillance of the outbreak. India is also working on recombinant BCG, convalescent plasma therapy, monoclonal antibodies to fight COVID19, he said.
The Head of Epidemiology and Communicable Diseases at the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR), Dr. Raman R Gangakhedkar, said that there are three strains of the novel coronavirus in India. He said more studies need to be conducted to identify the predominant SARS-CoV-2 strain. However, he maintained that any medicine would be equally effective against all strains.
Further, Dr. Gangakhedkar said that since the mutation rate of the virus is slow, vaccines that come out in the future will likely still be effective against it. He also said that there is no definitive evidence supporting the use of the BCG vaccine against COVID-19, hence its use is not recommended yet. A study will be conducted on the same next week.