Nagpur: Paving the way for the use of rapid antibody blood tests in India after a controversy over Chinese kits, the Indian Council for Medical Research (ICMR) said that it recognized 13 companies and validated them for manufacturing. Of them, 10 are Indian companies who are indigenously manufacturing them while the rest are overseas.
The assistant solicitor general of India (ASGI) informed the Nagpur bench of Bombay High Court that he received an ICMR communication validating 13 companies with manufacturing batch/lot numbers.
He added that the information would be shared with the state governments, who will be free to procure the kits directly from the companies since the kits are validated batch/lot-wise. The ASGI pointed out that details of the companies manufacturing the kits have already been forwarded to government pleader Sumant Deopujari’s office.
“In essence, the statement made is that the state need not depend on ICMR for procurement of rapid antibody test kits and are free to directly procure them from the products validated batch-wise,” justice Rohit Deo said.
The judge added that the government’s effort is expected to be result-centric. “It’s now beyond doubt that the rapid antibody test kits are needed at least for surveillance and preliminary screening. It’s availability thereof would assist the administration to combat the epidemic effectively. The government can always pay and recover, if the ICMR is responsible to bear the expenditure,” Deo said.
Quoting the revised ICMR’s policy, Deo said the government is expected to procure the kits from companies whose products are validated by ICMR. “It’s expected that those would be procured without being fettered by either red tapism or the standard operating procedure/protocol of inviting quotations/tenders.”
The directives came while hearing a petition by Shivaray Kulkarni through counsel Pankaj Navlani, pointing out towards non-compliance of ICMR guidelines by the Amravati Municipal Corporation (AMC). He contended that the district witnessed manifold rise in positive cases with the highest mortality rate and that the pattern is unique. He contended that AMC had demanded over 10,000 kits from the government, but they are yet to be delivered.
Earlier, Deopujari demanded that the revised or modified policy decision of the ICMR be placed on record through an affidavit. He contended that the earlier policy was that the kits should be sourced by the states through ICMR. “Neither the ASGI nor the GP is presently in a position to make a statement as to who bears the cost of the rapid antibody test kits,” justice Deo said, before adjourning the hearing till May 26.
WHAT High Court SAID
* State needn’t depend on ICMR for procurement of rapid antibody test kits
* It’s free to directly procure them as the products are validated batch-wise
* These kits are needed at least for surveillance & preliminary screening
* It’s availability would assist administration to combat epidemic effectively
* Govt can always pay & recover, if ICMR responsible to bear expenditure
* Those would be procured without being fettered by red tapism
* Also without standard operating procedure/protocol of inviting quotations/tenders