The government on Thursday made it clear that it will get around 20 more flights full of medical supplies from China in the coming days, despite questions being raised on the quality of testing kits imported from that country.
Over the last two weeks, India has received about 400 tonnes of medical supplies, including RT-PCR test kits, Rapid Antibody Tests, PPE kits and thermometers in almost two dozen flights from five cities in China, the government said.
Ministry of External Affairs spokesperson Anurag Srivastava said, “Around 20 more flights are expected to bring supplies from China in the coming days, and this is likely to be stepped up considerably in the next few months as our procurement efforts gain momentum.”
Sources said the “quality assurance” of the kits was being done by the Indian embassies, and did not make any judgement on the testing kits from China. The sources said that they are being procured from “qualified and approved suppliers”, they meet “certain basic standards”, and “third-party inspection” is done.
On the recent kits procured by the ICMR which are under scanner, sources said the body is “still looking into” it and they will “make a judgement”.
The MEA spokesperson also said that “six SUV-sized high speed testing machines, which are in high demand, are being sourced from Roche in USA. Our R&D labs are in touch with labs in Israel and Germany which are undertaking cutting edge work.”
As reported by The Indian Express, Srivastava said a significant development has been that through coordination with concerned agencies in India, arrangements were enabled whereby the Indian subsidiary of a South Korean firm has commenced 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 rolled out on April 19. This is an excellent example of our ‘Make in India for world’,” he said.
“Our embassy has also signed a contract on behalf of ICMR with another South Korean company to procure and supply 5 lakh corona testing kits,” he said.
As part of the government’s response to the COVID-19 situation, 11 empowered groups have been set up for an “integrated all-of-government” approach. “MEA has been playing a key role in the empowered group that deals with ensuring availability of essential medical equipment and supplies,” he said. “We are also facilitating collaboration between Indian and foreign agencies in research and development efforts (such as on Remdesivir, PLX Cells etc.) related to COVID-19.”
He also said that in keeping with India’s standing as a major and responsible supplier of pharma products to the world, “we have been providing humanitarian aid and commercial supplies including HCQs and Paracetamol”.
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