THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: Local Congress MP Shashi Tharoor on Friday said that instead of depending upon faulty coronavirus testing kits imported from China, using the indigenously developed testing methodologies made by two institutes in Kerala will be more judicious and the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) should approve these methodologies.
"Sree Chitra Tirunal Institute for Medical Sciences and Technology's (SCTIMST) RT-LAMP test, a conclusive, yet faster and cheaper test which can replace expensive and time-consuming RT-PCR tests and Rajiv Gandhi Centre for Biotechnology's (RGCB) antibody rapid test kits (the kind we have now imported from China and found faulty) are still awaiting ICMR approval. Why is the government dragging its feet?" Tharoor tweeted.
Tharoor also questioned the pace of work of ICMR during this medical emergency.
"In this emergency, the ICMR should be taking decisions in hours and days, not weeks and months! We had given Rs 1 crore funding to SCTIMST from MPLADS on March 30. Since then, their kits are ready. Trials have worked. RGCB too. But ICMR is unable to move at the rapid pace required. Why?" he questioned.
The Congress MP further said: "The EU Medicine Agency's guidelines, on par with the US Centres for Disease Control and Prevention's (CDC), require that rapid tests be 80 per cent accurate. Chinese kits bought by India have shown an average of 5 per cent accuracy, which is the lowest by their own standards."
"China said that the kits should be procured from authorised manufacturers. One of the companies that India ordered from is the same company that the UK govt had ordered and then rejected for being flawed. The British are seeking a $20 million refund from the two Chinese companies," he added.
He said that Spain, with one of the largest counts of positive cases, returned around 600,000 faulty kits to China. Czech and Filipino authorities also discarded testing kits imported from China, claiming they had only 20 per cent and 40 per cent accuracy respectively, he added.
A total of 23,452 confirmed cases have been reported in India so far while 4,814 people, who were COVID-19 positive, have recovered or migrated, the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare said on Friday.
There are 17,915 active cases of COVID-19 in the country as of now. 723 people have lost their lives due to coronavirus.