DRDO's mobile viral research lab to speed up COVID-19 screening

New Delhi (IANS) To speed up COVID-19 screening and related research and development activities, a mobile viral research laboratory (MVRL) has been developed by the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) in Hyderabad.

The laboratory was developed in association with the Employees' State Insurance Corporation (ESIC) Hospital and private industry.

Unveiling the laboratory through video conference, Defence Minister Rajnath Singh appreciated the setting up of this bio-safety Level 2 and Level 3 lab in a record time of 15 days, which usually takes about six months time.

He said this testing facility which can process more than 1,000 samples in a day will enhance the country's capabilities in fighting COVID-19.

The minister said that the government has taken several timely decisions because of which the spread of COVID-19 in the country is far less compared to many other countries.

He said the armed forces are contributing in many ways - such as setting up of quarantine centres, providing healthcare facilities, evacuating Indian nationals from other countries etc.

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It is the first such laboratory and has been developed by Research Centre Imarat (RCI), the Hyderabad based lab of the DRDO in consultation with ESIC Hospital, Hyderabad.

"The laboratory is the combination of a BSL 3 lab and a BSL 2 lab essential to carry out the activities. The labs are built as per Wealth Health Organisation and Indian Council of Medical Research Bio-safety standards to meet international guidelines," the ministry said in a statement.

The mobile lab will be helpful in carrying out diagnosis of COVID-19 and also virus culturing for drug screening, convalescent plasma derived therapy, comprehensive immune profiling of COVID-19 patients towards vaccine development early clinical trials specific to the Indian population.

The lab screens 1000-2000 samples per day. It can be positioned anywhere in the country, as per requirement.

The DRDO also took the help of private players like iCOMM for provision of containers, iClean for design and building of the BSL2 and BSL3 labs in a time bound manner, and Hi Tech Hydraulics for providing the base frame.

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