2 firms get government approval to produce desi swabs for cheaper Covid-19 test kits

NEW DELHI: India has started manufacturing indigenous swabs for testing, with two companies, Tulips and a Bombay-based Micro, Small and Medium Enterprise () receiving a green signal from () and the Pune National Virology Institute .

The swabs, used for collecting oral and throat samples from patients, will cost one-tenth of the imported swabs currently in use, which will reduce the cost of Covid-19 testing.

Companies started making polyester yarn swabs after getting the go-ahead earlier this month. Currently, imported nylon and viscose swabs are part of the Viral Transport Medium (VTM) kits used for the Covid-19 tests. Swabs imported from the USA USA And China cost between 20 and 30 rupees each. But even its supply began to run low in the last week of April. The polyester swabs will cost between Rs 1.4 and Rs 3.5 each.

Rahul Jain, co-owner of Suparshva, Tulips, told TOI: “Until March, we were just a personal hygiene company. In the second week of April, the government asked us if we could make indigenous swabs for the Covid-19 test. In 10 days, we converted a small part of our Ghaziabad 20 million cotton headphone capacity unit to polyester swabs. Since May 5, we have shipped 3.6 million swabs to VTM manufacturers.

This could help VTM manufacturers expand testing and produce cheaper kits. Local swab production can reduce the cost of testing while increasing its spread, said Vishal G Warke, director of R&D cell culture at HiMedia Viral Transport Media.

Meanwhile, Adi Enterprises, which makes hearing aids for Johnson and Johnson, also started making swabs on May 6. Sandeep Makkar, Managing Director of Johnson and, told TOI that for swabs made in India, Reliance provided the raw material and Johnson&Johnson India provided scientific expertise and pro bono R&D. Manufacturing the in a record seven days from conceptualization to production under the Make-In India initiative required ingenuity and quick action.