Make in India: Biomedical firms can gain from coronavirus the way IT industry used Y2K scare

Indian businesses can respond to the coronavirus challenge by quickly building capacity to produce relatively cheap testing kits, which could spark a boom in the biomedical industry.

India’s biomedical industry may use the coronavirus crisis as a watershed moment to build up capabilities the same way in which Indian IT sector emerged as a global player after the Y2K scare. Former RBI Governor Urjit Patel and noted economist Amartya Lahiri wrote in The Indian Express, establishing the relation between high-scale Covid-19 testing requirements in the coming years, and the likely benefit that Indian biomedical industry can derive from it. The duo stated that even if India does one lakh tests per day, not even 5 per cent of the population will be tested once in the next two years. 

Given the public health challenge and the need for making people safe, the Covid-19 testing has ballooned worldwide. Urjit Patel and Amartya Lahiri suggested that Indian businesses can respond to the challenge by quickly building capacity to produce relatively cheap testing kits, which could spark a boom in the biomedical industry. They also mentioned that India should give a clear signal to the entrepreneurs in the biomedical industry about this mission as the skill and enterprise are both available.

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Healthcare, made in India

Connecting the emerging opportunity to Narendra Modi’s Make in India initiative, the duo highlighted that meeting the challenge for rapid testing could be a perfect launchpad for the domestic manufacturing sector as the virus testing product can be a gamechanger. Since the components like swabs and reagents are not widely available in the market, it has been recommended to incentivise India’s universities, research laboratories, and biomedical supply chains to develop cheaper and faster alternate testing methods.

Not only the profit of the biomedical industry is expected to burgeon from these moves but a rapid rise in employment is also likely to happen as increasing the testing and manufacturing of testing kits will also need massive hiring of testers, transporters, and contact tracers. Meanwhile, India’s it is estimated that the number of labs that can test for the coronavirus will have to be increased to at least 2,000 with each lab having the capacity to test 5,000 samples a day. 

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