India’s Journey of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) and COVID-19 Test Kits from Dependency to Self-Reliance

By Dr. Shailly Luthra

HOME | DENTAL NEWS | India’s Journey of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) and COVID-19 Test Kits from Dependency to Self-Reliance

The arrival of COVID-19 threw the world in a swirl. Health professionally globally tried to look for protective measures to prevent the spread of this deadly virus, while looking for means to neutralize it at the same time.

Many methods like use of masks, social distancing, safe hand-washing practice and sanitisation were amongst these to name a few. However, with the rising number of patients in the world the medical sector was grappling with both the increase flow of patients and the problem of self-prevention and cross contamination from one to another. India was no different in this regard. With Corona coming knocking on our doors, we realised that we needed more PPE kits for the people in our healthcare sector. The first option was buying kits from wherever available. The most obvious answer being China!!

By 14th of April 2020, India placed a huge order of 15 million Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) kits, including gowns, googles and masks, along with 1.5 million rapid testing kits from China.[1] Within a week it was reported that 90,000 PPE kits imported from china fail quality and safety checks in India[2]. The medical experts had received damaged kits with missing supplies, despite paying anything between Rs 600 and Rs 2,500 per kit.[3] This imbalance in the demand and supply equation for PPE kits lead to India revamping its capacity for PPE kit manufacturing. By April 26th, 2020; the government informed us all that India was producing one lakh PPE kits per day mostly in Bengaluru.[4] This number has risen dramatically with in a span of about 3 weeks to 3 lakhs per day; with us producing 2 core PPE kits by Jun- end.[5]

The same holds true for the rapid resting kits. After the false negative reporting by faulty Chinese kits, we had to look for other means. Initial help came from an Indo-Korean joint venture with the South Korea’s diagnostic kit manufacturing company SD Biosensor manufacturing rapid antibody kits in Gurugram. These kits have the capability of giving results in 15 minutes. The initial capacity for kit manufacture was 5 lakh such kits per week which was to be increased to as many as 3 lakh kits per day by the company as reported on 25th April. [6] Along with this a joint venture by IIT-Delhi and Genei Laboratories, a Bengaluru based Biotech company is planning mass production of PCR testing kits. [7]

With studies projecting, that India itself would need 47.4 crore test by end July, [8] we are looking ahead at a long battle against this pandemic. Our increased self-reliance will come handy in the fight for detection, prevention and protection against this deadly virus.

As the world learns to live with the virus; we have to start getting back to our routine life, as best possible in today’s time. India’s self-reliance will also help us economically, as being professionals who cannot avoid close contact with our patients, we will need a constant supply of such kits at affordable prices.

We hope we find a permanent solution to this problem in the near future, till then prevention is the only cure for us.


References:

[1] https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/coronavirus-india-to-get-15-million-ppe-kits-from-china/article31336317.ece

[2] https://theswaddle.com/ppe-kits-imported-from-china-fail-quality-safety-checks/

[3] https://punemirror.indiatimes.com/pune/civic/docs-question-ppe-kits-quality-decry-aberrant-pricing/articleshow/75562928.cms.

[4] https://economictimes.indiatimes.com/industry/healthcare/biotech/healthcare/india-produces-one-lakh-ppes-per-day-almost-50-production-in-bengaluru-govt/articleshow/75390610.cms?from=mdr

[5] https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/covid-19-india-likely-to-produce-2-crore-ppe-by-june-end/articleshow/75769392.cms

[6] https://www.livemint.com/news/india/can-manufacture-300-000-covid-19-rapid-testing-kits-per-day-says-sd-biosensor-11587816106546.html

[7] https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/covid-19-bengaluru-firm-to-mass-produce-iit-d-developed-testing-kits-in-vizag/articleshow/75696138.cms

[8] https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/covid-19-bengaluru-firm-to-mass-produce-iit-d-developed-testing-kits-in-vizag/articleshow/75696138.cms

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