India’s first Biosafety Level 3 Mobile Laboratory inaugurated in Nashik

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Mumbai/Nashik, 18 February 2022: Union Minister of State for Health and Family Welfare, Dr. Bharati Pravin Pawar inaugurated the first Biosafety level-3 (BSL-3) containment Mobile Laboratory of South Asia in the Nasik district of Maharashtra today.

The mobile laboratory has been set up to investigate newly emerging and re-emerging viral infections that are highly infectious and of lethal potential to human beings.

Speaking on the occasion, Union Minister Dr. Bharati Pawar said that the Biosafety level-3 Mobile Laboratory is a significant value addition to the Government’s efforts to strengthen healthcare infrastructure through the Pradhan Mantri Ayushman Bharat Health Infrastructure Mission

Dr Pawar further said the mobile Lab will help in real-time data collection which will enable us to ensure quick containment and preventing further spread of any emerging viral infections.  She added that this lab is one of the finest examples of our resolve for an Aatma Nirbhar Bharat.

The laboratory has been designed and built by Indian Council of Medical Research in collaboration with Mumbai based bio-safety equipment maker Klenzaids.

DG, Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR), Dr. Balram Bhargava termed the launch of the mobile laboratory as ‘historic’ and added that this is the first Mobile BSL-3 Laboratory of South Asia region.

The DG recalled that during Nipah virus outbreak in Kerala, samples had to transported to National Institute of Virology, Pune. “It was then we felt a mobile laboratory could be of great help during outbreaks of highly infectious pathogens. Such mobile Laboratories can be stationed at different regions of the country and may be mobilised in case of sudden outbreaks.”

Importance of Mobile BSL Laboratories

The need for such laboratories is more pronounced in India and the neighbouring regions, with vast animal and human population living in proximity.

Existing infrastructure of BSL-3 laboratories is fixed and dependent on transporting samples from near and far locations, often leading to delays in diagnosis.  In view of repeated outbreaks of highly infectious pathogens like Nipah, Zika, Avian influenza and now COVID-19, it is critical to be able to detect the emerging pidemics/pandemics at a very early stage to enable quick containment and preventing spread.

To address this issue, ICMR and Klenzaids joined hands to design and build India’s  first Mobile BSL-3 Enhanced Laboratory- BioKlenz® . Built at a cost of about Rs. 25 crores, the BSL-3 Enhanced Laboratory is a self-sufficient unit, which has every system and equipment essential for full standalone operation.

The laboratory is airtight, access-controlled, bio-decontaminable, fitted with safe change HEPA (High Efficiency Particulate Absorbing) filtration and biological liquid waste decontamination system, giving it the tag of BSL-3 Enhanced. The lab is controlled through an intelligent control automation system, which maintains the working environment under negative air pressure, maintains equipment parameters and records all necessary data

The mobile laboratory provides a public health solution to this problem. It can be simply driven around to various locations, just like a normal bus.  This laboratory will be able to access remote and forested areas of the country where specially trained scientists from ICMR can investigate outbreaks using samples from humans and animal sources.  These activities will ensure timely and on-site diagnosis with rapid turnaround time for reporting these outbreaks.