India becomes the third most COVID-19-affected country . . .
India reached the grim milestone of 100,000 COVID-19-related deaths over the weekend, making it the third most affected country globally, behind the U.S. and Brazil, in terms of fatalities. Regarding the number of cases, India comes in second, just after the U.S., with 6.62 million confirmed cases. However, a low testing rate has sparked fears that the real number could be much higher than what the official data suggests, masking the depth of the crisis in a country of 1.3 billion people. Despite having significantly invested in testing, India remains behind other countries, at just under 60,000 tests per million population, compared with for the U.S. (337,000 tests per million). The main issue with testing for COVID-19 in India has been affordability.
Potential low-cost test developed domestically . . .
A team of scientists in India has developed what could be the first paper-based test for COVID-19, providing fast results at a minimal cost. The test, commonly known as the Feluda test, short for FNCAS9 Editor-Limited Uniform Detection Assay, was named after a famous fictional Bengali detective named Feluda. Scientists estimate that this new testing kit can provide results in under an hour and cost less than C$10 (Rs 500), about five times less than the commonly used PCR swab tests available for C$45 (Rs 2,400). The Drug Controller General of India has just cleared the test for commercial use, with plans to manufacture it by the New Delhi-based CSIR-Institute of Genomics and Integrative Biology and the TATA Group.
India struggles to restart its economy after COVID-19 hit . . .
While the new Feluda test could be a game-changer in India for controlling the pandemic, Delhi is struggling to restart the economy. Indian manufacturers and traders are counting on the usually busy fall season, starting with the lead up to Dussehra, Diwali, and Durga Puja celebrations and extending into the New Year to rescue them from the significant pandemic- and lockdown-induced economic slowdown. Official statistics show that India’s economy shrank by 24 per cent in the quarter ending June, the worst downturn since India began issuing data publicly in 1996. While the Feluda test provides hope for India to control the virus's spread, the road ahead will be long for the economy to recover.
- Al Jazeera: India passes grim milestone of 100,000 COVID-19 deaths
- Asia Pacific Foundation of Canada: Will India Survive the Test of COVID-19?
- Hindustan Times: Feluda Covid-19 testing kit: Here’s all you need to know about it