US foundation sanctions grants for Covid-19 testing, tracing

The aid, USD 5.5 million in total, will help domestic manufacture of critical testing agents; support deployment of scalable testing programmes to contain spread.

Published: 29th October 2020 06:56 AM  |   Last Updated: 29th October 2020 06:56 AM   |  A+A-

A woman argues with a BBMP marshal on being fined for not wearing a mask in Bengaluru. Marshals are having a tough time enforcing Covid norms | meghana Sastry

By Express News Service

BENGALURU : To support the expansion of Covid-19 testing and contact tracing across India, US-based Rockefeller Foundation announced two new grants to the Centre for Cellular and Molecular Platforms (C-CAMP) and PATH.

C-CAMP is an initiative of the Department of Biotechnology, GOI, and a member of the Bangalore Life Sciences Cluster. It is a product of the National Centre for Biological Sciences in Bengaluru while PATH is a global organisation that has received a grant to expand Covid-19 testing capacity in Uttar Pradesh, Maharashtra and Punjab.

The grants, totalling $5.5 million, will support domestic manufacturing of critical testing materials and the deployment of scalable testing programmes, essential to mitigating the virus’ spread. Additionally, the grants will advance efforts to leverage data and technology to strengthen pandemic surveillance and response. Rockefeller Foundation is a science-driven philanthropy that works in the field of health, food, power and economic mobility.

“India has recorded significant rises in Covid-19 cases, placing it on track to surpass the US as the country with the highest number of infections. Supply chain shortages for diagnostic tests and insufficient testing capacities in certain parts of the country have negatively impacted its overall pandemic response,” a release from the Foundation said.

“By expanding the domestic production and national self-sufficiency of essential diagnostic technology and implementing scalable testing strategies, India will be better equipped to deploy tools to mitigate the virus’ spread, strengthening its Covid-19 response overall,” it added. Prof K Vijay Raghavan, Principal Scientific Adviser to the Government of India, said that with the grants,  research institutes will be able to support MSMEs to manufacture high quality, yet low cost molecular diagnostics that meet global standards.

C-CAMP is receiving funding to scale up the local manufacturing of reagents and testing solutions in India, providing the country with the elements needed to domestically produce reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) testing kits. 

In coordination with the Bangalore Biotechnology Cluster, C-CAMP will leverage public-private partnerships to develop a roadmap for the production of RT-PCR testing kits and provide data-driven projections, in forming a national plan for the production of at least 10 million testing kits per month. PATH will support state governments to develop and deploy optimized testing strategies that can be replicated and scaled up rapidly.

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