KOLKATA: Aiming to conduct clinical examinations of at least one lakh COVID-19 samples daily, the West Bengal government has placed orders for advanced testing equipment from a Switzerland-based pharmaceutical company, an official said on Saturday.
The device, which can conduct novel coronavirus tests on the Cobas 6800/8800 system, is being brought to the state via waterways and delivery is expected soon, the official said.
"With rising number of COVID-19 infections, it's imperative to augment testing of samples. This particular instrument has the capacity to test a lakh of samples daily," he said.
"West Bengal will perhaps be the first state in the country to start using them." The state is testing around 10,000 samples on a daily basis.
The equipment will be put to use in select state-run hospitals in north Bengal and in the metropolis to start with, he said.
"The cost of of conducting 10,000 tests is Rs 2-2.5 crore. Once this system is in place, it will cut down on the expenditure," he said.
Training of technicians on operating the device has started at the Calcutta School of Tropical Medicine.
"We have some technicians in the Health Department and a few at the National Institute of Cholera and Enteric Diseases (NICED) who have knowledge about the Cobas system. Some are being trained at the Calcutta School of Tropical Medicine," the official added.
"The arrival of the equipment is getting delayed because of the lockdown, but we expect it soon," he added.
The Cobas SARS-CoV-2 is a real-time reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) machine intended for qualitative test on the Cobas 6800/8800 system to detect the infection from nasopharyngeal and oropharyngeal swab samples, and it is approved by the World Health Organization (WHO).