Atmanirbhar Bharat: This woman entrepreneur’s company is offering RT-PCR testing for COVID-19 at an affordable cost of Rs 499
Certified by ICMR and NABL, aviation company Spicejet’s subsidiary SpiceHealth recently launched affordable RT-PCR testing for COVID-19, priced at Rs 499.
Nearly a year after the first case of COVID-19 was reported, testing-tracing remains the best way to control the pandemic as approval and access to the vaccine will take time to reach entire populations. Avani Singh who holds a master’s degree in public policy from Stanford University was working remotely as a consultant at McKinsey when COVID-19 cases in India began to rise. “While accompanying my father to meetings, I met a number of government officials and it became abundantly clear that behind these rising cases, the jarring problem was the government’s inability to test rampantly, says Avani, daughter of Ajay Singh, Chairman and Managing Director of Spicejet.
Quick and affordable testing Noting that one of the reasons for people not getting tested was due to the high price (the RT-PCR test costs Rs 2,400 in Delhi), Avani took it upon herself to utilise the existing platform SpiceHealth, a subsidiary of her father’s aviation company Spicejet. Launching low-cost and efficient mobile laboratories, it entered into partnerships with genomics company GeneStore and the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR). The first laboratory in Azadpur Mandi in Delhi is up and running and conducts more than 3,000 tests per day. Certified by ICMR and NABL, SpiceHealth plans to scale up to 100 labs equipped with machinery to run the RCP-TR test by the end of this year. Priced at Rs 499, the results are available within six hours from the time of sample collection as compared to the average 24 to 48 hours taken on the field. Having infused an initial investment of around Rs 5 lakh so far, Avani says it is an on-going activity and with each new lab the company incurs costs on tools and machinery.
Starting operations in the national capital, SpiceHealth hopes to venture into neighbouring regions like Delhi-NCR and Haryana. She says expansion plans depend on what the government needs at a given time. “The requests keep pouring in every day. We are not looking at it from a commercial point of view but mostly need-based. And having mobile labs makes it easy to meet these needs,” she adds. Hailed as yet another Make-In-India initiative, the first mobile testing laboratory was inaugurated by Union Home Minister, Amit Shah. “The RT-PCR test, known for its diagnostic accuracy, is the most commonly used COVID test worldwide. By offering this test at a fraction of the current price, ensuring a much faster turnaround time of just six hours, and deploying mobile laboratories which are easily transportable to the remotest areas, we hope to significantly scale up testing across the country,” Avani said during the ceremony. She shares that while not having a healthcare background has been a challenge, the government’s support helped in scaling, hiring people, and taking the venture forward. Avani adds every day on the field is a learning experience. Empowering women This is not the first time that Avani saw a problem as an opportunity to make a difference. In 2012, when electric rickshaws became popular in Delhi, she was working with an NGO called Equal Insaniyat where she met many women longing to be financially independent. The then 17-year-old Avani decided to start an NGO called Umeed to train women to drive electric rickshaws and later as taxi drivers. As managing work from abroad became a challenge, the organisation is now being supervised by a junior from her school.
Source : yourstory