While it is well-recognised that expanding testing capacity is a critical element in the management of the COVID-19 pandemic, testing is a logistically and technically formidable task for a large population such as ours. Research institutions have the infrastructure and technical know-how required for conducting tests. IISER Pune has hence come forward to take on this crucial task and has now set up a testing centre on the campus. Watch here a video on the IISER Pune COVID-19 Testing Centre With the help of volunteers from within the IISER Pune community including students, staff and faculty members, and led by the institute's Action Committee on COVID-19, the Centre has now commenced testing activities from today. Throat and nasal swab samples are expected to arrive at the centre every day from government hospitals, which will be tested for the presence of the virus causing COVID-19 using an ICMR approved kit. Preparations for setting up the Centre began in full swing sometime in mid-April. A small group led by a few faculty members in the biology department assessed feasibility and established the required physical infrastructure. Following approval from the Apex Committee of the institute for this activity, a call for technically qualified volunteers with diverse skill sets from within the institute was sent out for carrying out various aspects of the testing. Standard Operating Procedures have been drawn up with help and inputs from mentor institute Armed Forces Medical College (AFMC), National Institute of Virology (NIV), and the National Centre for Cell Sciences (NCCS). [gallery ids="1793,1788,1789,1790,1791" type="slideshow"] "Realising the need for more COVID-19 testing in Pune, a few faculty members came together to set up a testing facility that meets all in-house and ICMR safety and other procedural requirements. Getting the testing facility ready quickly is a testament to their commitment and the effort they as well as supporting staff put in. The advice and help of the NIV and AFMC was invaluable. The testing facility is now being run with volunteers who have been properly trained, and I am sure that it will become one of the more efficient testing facilities in the country," said IISER Pune Director Prof Jayant Udgaonkar. Nodal officer for the facility Prof Anjan Banerjee informed that the IISER Pune Action Committee has considered utmost safety measures and complied with all guidelines as well as directives suggested by the Institute's bio-safety committee. During the days leading up to the commencement of the centre's activities, the team has arranged for multiple mock drills and volunteer training sessions with help from officials from the NIV. The volunteer team is now working on efficient patient data processing to facilitate reporting. After a review of the facility, workflow, safety guidelines, and SOPs by experts from NIV and AFMC, the Indian Council for Medical Research (ICMR) has now accorded approval for the Centre. With the setting up of this centre, IISER Pune hopes to contribute to the much-needed expansion of the testing capability in the country for COVID-19.
COVID-19 Testing Centre at IISER Pune