A Goa-based startup’s device is set to become one of the key diagnostic tools as India looks to expand its testing capacity for Covid-19.
Truenat, a product of Molbio Diagnostics that’s been used to detect tuberculosis, also speeds up the reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) technique, which detects the presence of the coronavirus.
One of the biggest issues currently holding up treatment and containment efforts is the time taken for RT-PCR tests to deliver results, which ranges from 24 to 48 hours. The lack of reliable screening tests has meant that surveillance staff are able to determine a “suspect” case only by checking body temperature.
Truenat can throw up results in much faster time than the usual RT-PCR tests, Sriram Natarajan, CEO of Molbio Diagnostics, told ET.
The Indian Council of Medical Research has said that tests registering positive in a Truenat device have to be reconfirmed by the traditional RT-PCR test. However, the founders of Molbio Diagnostics expect Truenat to be declared a primary diagnostic device in the coming weeks.
The company received an order from ICMR for 1.2 million test kits and 500 devices. It is working to expand the number of devices to 2,000 as the ICMR targets carrying out 100,000 tests a day, Sriram said.
Ever since Covid-19 hit India, the ability of domestic diagnostic companies to scale up and meet the country’s needs has been tested. The Indian government has placed a Rs 4 crore order for 2.9 million RT-PCR test kits.
Molbio’s Sriram said it currently offers the cheapest RT-PCR rate in the country. Its product is priced at ₹1,200 including kits and reagents, which is half the rate of products offered by other companies, Sriram explained.