New York-based Rockefeller Foundation on Monday announced two new grants totalling $5.5 million (approximately Rs 40.3 crore) to support the expansion of Covid-19 testing and contact tracing across India.
The grants, awarded to the Centre for Cellular and Molecular Platforms and PATH, will support domestic manufacturing of critical testing materials and the deployment of scalable testing programmes, essential to mitigating the virus’ spread.
Additionally, the grants will advance the efforts to leverage data and technology to strengthen pandemic surveillance and response.
“Scaling up Covid-19 testing provides crucial data insights that can help inform India’s response and direct targeted interventions to those most in need,” Naveen Rao, Senior Vice President (Health), Rockefeller Foundation, said in a statement.
“These grants reflect our commitment to supporting India’s equitable recovery from Covid-19, and we look forward to working alongside the government of India to advance this urgent goal,” Rao added.
India has recorded significant rise in Covid-19 cases over the past few months, placing it on track to surpass the US as the country with the highest number of infections.
These grants are part of The Rockefeller Foundation’s ongoing Covid-19 response strategy, a global $100 million commitment to improve public health and expand equitable access to testing and contract tracing.
As part of the newly announced grants, the Centre for Cellular and Molecular Platforms (C-CAMP) — an initiative of the Indian government’s Department of Biotechnology (DBT) — is receiving funding to scale up local manufacturing of reagents and testing solutions in India, providing the country with the elements needed to domestically produce reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) testing kits.
C-CAMP will leverage public-private partnerships to develop a roadmap for the production of RT-PCR testing kits and provide data-driven projections, informing a national plan for the production of at least 10 million testing kits per month.
“RT-PCR tests remain the gold standard for confirming active Covid-19 infections. By helping scale up domestic test production, this grant will strengthen India’s diagnostic capacities and improve its ability to mitigate the virus,” said Taslimarif Saiyed, C-CAMP CEO and Director.
PATH, a leading global public health organisation, has received a grant to expand Covid-19 testing capacity in Uttar Pradesh, Maharashtra and Punjab, The Rockefeller Foundation said.
With this funding, PATH will support state governments to develop and deploy optimised testing strategies that can be replicated and scaled up rapidly, seek to make Covid-19 screening and diagnostic tools available at an affordable cost, create an ecosystem of faster diagnosis of Covid-19 in key geographies, and establish pandemic surveillance models.
These collaborations will not only help to solve a critical domestic challenge, provide for import substitution, but will also enable India to better contribute to the global Covid-19 response.