Swiss company Roche Diagnostics had last month received an emergency approval from the USFDA for its cobas SARS CoV-2 test that can provide the results in three and half hours. This test has come to India at a time when the country is expanding its Covid-19 testing numbers. However, the company is facing supply chain issues, leading to delays in testing expansion, Roche Diagnostics India Managing Director Shravan Subramanyam told ET in an interview. Edited excerpts:
You received an approval for your SARS CoV-2 test from the drug controller. Has the tests begun?
It has been two days since the testing commenced at National Institute of Biologicals (NIB), Delhi, making it the first centre in India to test for Covid-19 using the cobas SARS CoV-2 assay. We received the import license from the Indian drug controller in mid-March 2020. Considering this instrument was earlier not in use in India, it was an arduous task list - which normally takes months to complete but crunched into three weeks — to ensure that patient testing could begin at the earliest.
How many testing centres can your test be provided in?
For now, we are looking to establish similar Covid-19 diagnostic testing infrastructure in two more cities, namely Bhubaneshwar and Bengaluru. Patient sample testing in Bhubaneshwar is likely to be launched early coming week.
How are the global travel and freight issues impacting your supply chain?
We are aware that all passenger aircraft and several cargo flights to numerous destinations have been cancelled. Similar issues are being faced in ocean freight also, putting tremendous pressure on overall freight operations and our ability to get our testing shipments into India. Even after the shipments reaching India, we are experiencing delays at ports for shipment clearance, due to reduced manpower operating at these ports. We are working with the relevant authorities to ease the supplies flow into the country.