The Minister for Science & Technology, Earth Sciences and Health & Family Welfare Dr Harsh Vardhan inaugurated and flagged off India’s first I-Lab (Infectious disease diagnostic lab) for Covid testing in rural and inaccessible areas of India, here today. Secretary, Department of Biotechnology Dr. Renu Swarup and other officials were present on the occasion. Dr. Jitendar Sharma, CEO, Andhra Med Tech Zone CEO, and senior officials from NITI Ayog, Ministry of Health & Family Welfare, MeiTY, other ministries, ICMR, DST, CSIR, etc. joined the function through web online.
Expressing his happiness to launch the I-Lab, infectious disease diagnostic laboratory- a mobile testing facility, Dr. Harsh Vardhan dedicated this facility to provide Covid testing access to rural India. This mobile testing facility will be deployed through the DBT testing hubs to remote regions of the country for Covid testing. He congratulated and appreciated the efforts of the DBT in tackling the Covid pandemic, and added that DBT coordinated in scaling-up testing for Covid by reorienting premiere laboratories as Covid testing centers in a hub and spoke model. There are now over 20 hubs in the country with 100 testing laboratories and these have tested more than 2,60,000 samples.
Dr. Harsh Vardhan said, “This has been possible through the DBT-AMTZ COVID Command Consortia (COVID Medtech Manufacturing Development] Consortia)” to cope-up with the current situation in the country and move progressively towards a stage of self-sufficiency. The I-lab will be deployed through these hubs into remote and interior places”. The Minister appreciated the “Andhra med-tech zone team for building this unique, innovative facility for the country at the period of lock-down through tireless, dedicated and committed efforts”. He informed that AMTZ through the support of DBT has also established manufacturing facility for indigenous manufacturing of kits and reagents for various testing kits which were initially imported thereby helping us realise the vision of Pradhan mantriji on- Make-in India, Make for India”. He pointed out that today there are 953 testing laboratories in all corners of the country and elaborated on “Various steps taken by the ministry and departments towards achieving research components indigenization and their in-house manufacturing.” Dr. Harsh Vardhan emphasised that “In the near future with all these collective and cooperative efforts, India will achieve self-sufficiency in healthcare technologies leading towards Atma Nirbhar Bharat.”
Dr. Renu Swarup said on the occasion that through the concerted efforts Indian scientists, the country has achieved a capacity of producing nearly 5 lakh testing kits per day, exceeding the target of having one lakh test kits by May 31, 2020. She pointed out that this I-Lab has been created in a record time of 8 days by the Andhra Pradesh Med-tech Zone team with the support of DBT under the National Biopharma Mission being implemented by the Public Sector BIRAC. She highlighted that the unit has biosafety facility and is capable of performing RT-PCR as well as ELISA tests.