Millions of people globally have succumbed to Covid-19 ever since its outbreak in late 2019. India's initial response to the pandemic was decisive and swift – the Government of India imposed a nationwide lockdown on March 24, 2020 even before the cumulative cases crossed 500, and the lockdown was one of the most stringent across the globe. India was one of the first nations to impose a mask mandate as well. Later, as the nation started lifting the lockdown, the central and state governments continued to define containment zones and impose strict stay-at-home orders to curb any local hotspots. The government also upgraded healthcare facilities, onboarded private sector facilities for Covid-19 treatment and constructed large, dedicated Covid care centers.
Despite these measures, India is still one of the world's worst-hit nations. The seroprevalence studies in India have shown the heterogeneous nature of the spread of the infection. The varying estimates indicate the importance of testing to understand the state of the epidemic in India and inform essential public health action to curb the epidemic. Previous studies have indicated that intensive testing and quarantine can curb the epidemic. Nations including Taiwan, New Zealand and South Korea changed the epidemic's trajectories by increased testing and contact tracing. Even China, the epicenter of the outbreak, curbed the epidemic with intensive testing - sometimes testing entire cities within days of observing new cases. Widespread and equitable testing is an important method to reduce the spread and the impact of the disease.
MIHM is working to study the cost-effectiveness of various testing mechanisms for Covid-19, such as Real-Time Polymerase Chain Reaction (RT-PCR), CBNAAT / TrueNat, Rapid Antigen, and pooled testing basis which it will provide specific recommendations for reducing the unit cost of testing for Covid-19 applicable to both urban (densely populated) and rural (sparse demand) areas.