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Cost estimation of COVID Kavach test developed in 2020: A National Reference Laboratory initiative during early phase of Indian pandemic mitigation.

BACKGROUND OBJECTIVES: A new indigenously developed technology, coronavirus disease (COVID) Kavach, an IgG immunoglobulin-based enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) kit, was developed in 2020 by the Indian Council of Medical Research-National Institute of Virology (ICMR-NIV), Pune, India. The primary objective of this study was to determine the total cost of development of COVID Kavach IgG ELISA and estimate the unit cost (UC) as well.

METHODS: The total development cost (TDC) of COVID Kavach and its UC during the early phase of pandemic mitigation were estimated through a micro-costing approach from provider's perspective. An activity-based bottom-up costing approach was used to facilitate data collection from all resources, and analysis was performed using Microsoft Excel version 2016. The micro-costing data were utilized to interpret the breakdown of cost across all inputs and different levels of activity.

RESULTS: The TDC of COVID Kavach was estimated to be ₹ 2,884,032 (US$ 38,265). The UC of providing test results for exposure to severe acute respiratory syndrome corona virus-2 (SARS-CoV-2) was estimated to be ₹ 300 (US$ 4) during July 2020. The capital and recurrent cost were incurred around 5-10 per cent and 90-95 per cent, respectively, in both the development and UC of COVID Kavach. The major portion of funds (70-80%) was utilized for procurement of laboratory consumables, followed by human resources (8-12%) in the development as well as for UC of COVID Kavach.

INTERPRETATION CONCLUSIONS: The estimates from this study can be useful for conducting economic evaluations, which will help in deciding upon the subsidy in government health facilities. The data may be useful to set up laboratory facilities analogous to the National Reference Laboratory located at the ICMR-NIV, Pune and for allotting sufficient budget to develop such assays in government-funded laboratories.

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