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Drap approves locally-developed Covid-19 testing kits

Drap approves locally-developed Covid-19 testing kits

ISLAMABAD: In a major breakthrough on Friday, the Drug Regulatory Authority of Pakistan (Drap) approved indigenous diagnostic kits for the detection of Covid-19 that have been developed by scientists at the National University of Science and Technology (Nust).

Drap approved the N-CovKit after scientists at Nust successfully completed its lab trial.

In his tweet on June 12, Federal Minister for Science and Technology Chaudhry Fawad Hussain also confirmed the news.

“This will bring significant cost reduction of Covid tests that run in thousands of rupees in the country and will save huge import bills.”

He also extended his felicitations to both the leadership of Nust and the scientists, saying they had made the country proud by their outstanding contribution to fight the pandemic through developing these testing kits.

Nust successfully performed lab trials of N-CovKit on 330 blinded samples. These indigenously established assays are robust, sensitive to the target and would soon be available in the market at a lower price compared to imported ones.

A team of experts who developed the kits comprised Associate Professor Dr Aneela Javed and Assistant Professor Dr Ali Zohaib from Nust Attaur Rahman School of Applied Biosciences (ASAB). They have been working on the establishment of these assays for diagnosis of the virus.

The kits will soon be mass produced by a selected pharmaceutical company as soon as the company is granted approval by Drap for commercial production.

Minister Fawad Chaudhry told Dawn that Pakistan was the only country in the world which cut funding after 2007 for research and development from 0.67pc of the gross domestic product (GDP) to 0.24pc. Nonetheless, it is refreshing to see actual Pakistani scientists being tapped for their expertise rather than political alignment to get through this challenge, he commented.

He said all major cities had run short of sanitisers, disinfectant sprays and masks immediately after the first two cases of Covid-19 were detected between February 26 and March 5.

“That is when we realised that we do not produce such basic items and were importing them with a heavy cost to the exchequer,” he had said earlier committing to gain self-sufficiency in the manufacture of these basic items.

Published in Dawn, June 13th, 2020

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