Inspirational Personality: Minal Dhakave Bhonsle

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Of all the heroes, children are told about, half are animated, and half are from the movies. It is rare to see children being taught about the real heroes, those who put their life at stake, those who put their nation first before any other priority of their life, those who come out as warriors in unprecedented times. In this unremitting battle against the novel coronavirus, tons of (sh)heroes have emerged. Doctors, nurses, teachers, delivery personnel, sanitation workers, police, and many such heroes are standing at the front lines of this war and continue to fulfill their duty unfailingly. One such unsung hero is MinalDakhaveBhosle, the wonder woman who delivered India’s first coronavirus testing kit in six flat weeks while being in the last stage of her pregnancy. This woman is a testimony to sincerity and pure dedication towards her nation-India. It would be apt to quote some lines of Longfellow’s ‘A Psalm of Life’ for such a person:

“Lives of great men all remind us,
We can make our lives sublime,
And, departing, leave behind us,
Footprints on the sands of time…”

On 26th of March,2020 the primary made-in-India coronavirus testing kits reached the market, raising hopes of an increase in screening of patients suffering from coronavirus. The credits go to Pune-based Mylab Discovery and its research and development chief- MinalBhosle . It is a fact to we all should acknowledge that this virologist delivered kit first, then her baby. Yes, she was pregnant and was battling with her own deadline too.Bhonsle began performing on the coronavirus testing kit in February, when she was within the last stage of her pregnancy. It was an emergency for her and she put India before her personal needs. She gave birth to a daughter – and only began work on the programme in February, just days after leaving hospital with a pregnancy complication. For her, it was not just a race against time but her personal condition too. She was 9 month pregnant and ready to deliver any time, had just about sent her test for an approval to the requisite body, when she checked in to a hospital for her baby’s delivery. Mylab had just begun work on theCovid-19 kits in February, and on 18 March, just a day after the ICMR’s announcement allowing private labs to test for COVID-19, Minal and her team managed to submit the kit for evaluation to the NIV then to the FDA.

She and her wonder team of 10 managed to provide the testing kit for evaluation to the National Institute of Virology (NIV) on March 18, a day before she delivered her daughter. And this ‘shero’, an hour before she was rushed to the hospital,also submitted her proposal to the Indian FDA and drugs control authority CDSCO for commercial approval of the testing kit. She thereafter, gave birth to her baby girl through a Caesarean delivery. For her, it was like giving birth to two babies- one, her one and the other, the coronavirus testing kit called Patho Detect which was completed in record six weeks instead of three or four months. She stood against all odds and her efforts paid off.

The testing kit delieved by Minal and her team is so efficient that it will reduce the time taken for delivering a test result from the usual 6-7 hours (taken by imported kits) to 2.5 hours. She has contributed significantly to science and industry for over 5 years and yet again made a major contribution. And what’s an inspirational story without challenges, right? While work on the kit was happening ,Minal developed complications in her pregnancy. But in the end, her perseverance and tenacity and the team’s diligence paid off. Before submitting the kits for evaluation, the team checked for all the parameters to ensure accurate test results and finally, they achieved success. Apart from its accuracy, what makes the kit practical and even more wonderful is the cost. The Mylab’sCovid testing kit costs ₹ 1,200, which is a quarter of what the Indian government has been spending on testing so far (₹ 4,500 per kit). It is not the first time Minal has served the nation. She has quite a lot experience of working on the swine flu disease at NIV, Pune. This was during the 2009 outbreak that she worked on swine flu and proved to be an angel for many.

“If I don’t work in emergency situations when my services are needed the most, then what is the use?” –Minal Dhakave Bhonsle

She has indeed, set up an example for many. Even, industrialist and business tycoon Anand Mahindra said that Minal has delivered a ray of hope for the country. She is an inspiration for all and her story gives hope to rising stars. A huge shout out to such wonder women who constantly work to fight in this pandemic and provide us with better lives!



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