The Foundation for Innovative New Diagnostics (FIND) announced the arrival of the first batch of test kits supported by PepsiCo India to Government of India (GoI) testing sites across the country. These kits are being procured and distributed by FIND with funding from PepsiCo India and have been approved by Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR).
FIND is a long-standing partner of the National Tuberculosis (TB) Elimination Programme (NTEP) (formerly known as the Revised National Tuberculosis Control Programme, or RNTCP) of the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare (MoHFW), GoI, and has helped introduce new, rapid, quality-assured tests for TB at affordable prices for the public health sector. Building on this partnership, FIND is now working closely with the MoHFW to support the national Covid-19 diagnostics response, and with the World Health Organization (WHO) to accelerate development and access to diagnostics as part of the global response to the Covid-19 pandemic.
In response to prime minister Narendra Modi’s call to the nation to help tackle the outbreak, PepsiCo India has come forward to support the scale-up of India’s Covid-19 testing capacity through support provided to FIND, as well as other initiatives that include providing over 7 million meals to families impacted by Covid-19 outbreak in partnership with non-government organization (NGO) partners.
In collaboration with the country’s public and private laboratory network (approved by the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR)), FIND has selected five GoI laboratories and one laboratory run by a partner NGO called YRG Care, based on urgent test kit requirement and the need for scale-up of Covid-19 testing. The laboratories identified across the country are set to receive these kits, along with RNA extraction supplies. PepsiCo India has committed to extending its support to healthcare and diagnostic facilities by providing 25,000 Covid-19 test kits to FIND.
The test kits and reagents have been procured from Drug Controller General of India (DCGI)-approved manufacturers and are run using reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) technology, which is currently the gold standard for detecting patients with Covid-19.
The Covid-19 pandemic has emerged as one of the largest threats to global public health seen in generations. Testing is critical to “flattening the curve” and preventing health systems from becoming overwhelmed. As of today, India has conducted a total of 1,191,946 tests for the disease.
Ahmed El Sheikh, president, PepsiCo India, said “PepsiCo India stands committed to lending its full support to the GoI in its fight against the pandemic. Our partnership with FIND is all about scaling up access to diagnostics and testing kits across the country. During these challenging times, we have been working very closely with FIND to distribute testing kits to public and private healthcare laboratories in India. We believe lending assistance through such initiatives is also one of the best ways to support our real heroes –the healthcare community who are battling on the front lines against Covid-19.”
“Testing is our first-line of defence against this pandemic – and it is actionable today,” said Sanjay Sarin, head of FIND India. “The sheer size of India and the density of our urban populations increases the challenges and complexity of scaling up testing capacity quickly and efficiently. The ICMR and MoHFW are committed to making COVID-19 tests available to everyone who needs one, and private sector partnerships such as this one with PepsiCo India are critical to helping make this a reality as quickly as possible.”