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NEW DELHI : Amidst threat of the third wave of covid-19 pandemic looming large, India on Monday restricted export of rapid antigen tests used to detect SARS CoV2 virus infection.

In a notification dated August 16, Directorate General of Foreign Trade (DGFT) amended the export policy for Covid-19 rapid antigen testing kits by putting them under restricted category with immediate effect.

The move will increase availability of these kits in the country that is recording constant number of covid-19 cases. India has cumulatively conducted over 50 crores covid-19 tests which includes a significant number of rapid antigen tests. Off late Indian companies started manufacturing rapid antigen kits soon after the pandemic hit the country. 

Earlier, exports of rapid antigen testing kits were allowed without any restrictions. With the notification issued on Monday, exporters will now require a licence from the DGFT for outbound shipments.

On April 4, 2020 DGFT had put restrictions on exports of all diagnostic kits and reagents.

In June 2020 the directorate eased restrictions on export of testing kits and decided to continue with the curbs on only those which are used to diagnose covid-19.

These included VTM kits, RNA extraction kits, RT-PCR kits and reagents, 15mn falcon tube, beads, probes (specific for Covid-19 testing), and reverse transcriptase enzymes.

While earlier, all diagnostic kits had been placed under restrictions, the DGFT in June said that all other diagnostic kits/reagents/instruments/apparatus... are freely exportable subject to submission of an undertaking by the exporter to the customs authorities at the time of exports.

On 4 April 2020, the trade watchdog had issued a notification restricting export of all diagnostic kits and laboratory reagents even though there was a shortage of primarily those kits and reagent which are used for covid-19 diagnosis.

On August,9, 2021 DGFT notified a quota for export of diagnostic kits and their components/laboratory reagents for three months starting July, 2021.

These RT-PCR kits, RNA extraction kits or its component elements (silicone columns, poly adenylic acid or carrier RNA, proteinase K, magnetic stands, beads) and VTM kits or its component elements (15 ml falcon tube or cryovials, sterile synthetic fibre swabs (nylon, polyster, rayon or Dacron).

Through trade notice dated January 19, 2021, the directorate had notified a quota for export of diagnostic kits and their components/laboratory reagents for the period from December, 2020 to February 2021. 

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