Pvt labs seek Govt support to conduct free Covid-19 tests

| | New Delhi
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Pvt labs seek Govt support to conduct free Covid-19 tests

Saturday, 11 April 2020 | PTI | New Delhi

With the Supreme Court directing that private labs should conduct coronavirus tests free of cost, many laboratories expect the Government to “come up with modalities” so that they can sustain testing facilities in the wake of burgeoning demand.

Owner of some labs also said the private laboratories “do not have the wherewithal” to do this costly test free of cost.

Dr Arjun Dang, CEO of Dr Dangs Lab, said, “We endorse the Supreme Court’s judgment which aims at increasing accessibility to Covid-19 testing and to make it affordable for the common man”.

However, for private labs there are numerous fixed costs, including for reagents, consumables, skilled manpower. The whole process of testing for coronavirus entails immense infection control measures like personal protective equipment, viral transport media and the need to keep sanitation and employee safety, he said.

“Private labs are barely able to recover costs at the government-mandated cost of Rs 4,500. Keeping this in mind we hope the government comes up with modalities so that testing in private laboratories remains sustainable,” said Dang.

Dang said his lab is currently following the apex court’s order and doing the test free of cost while awaiting further clarity from the government.

Agreeing with Dang, Dr A Velumani, Chairman and Managing Director of Thyrocare Technologies Ltd, is of the opinion that “private labs do not have the wherewithal to do this costly test free of cost”.            “It is duty of the Government to reimburse the costs and we do not mind working without profits, he said.

Velumani said, the court in its order, has indicated that “government should find a way and we are awaiting for the directions’. “If the Government doesn’t subsidise, it would be a huge setback in the fight against COVID-19,” he said.

In a big relief to the poor, the Supreme Court on Wednesday directed that private labs should conduct coronavirus tests free of cost, observing they need to be philanthropic in the hour of national crisis.

The government had fixed Rs 4500 for private labs for screening and confirmation tests for Covid-19. The top court in its interim order said the Centre should immediately issue directions for carrying out free COVID-19 tests in NABL accredited labs or any agencies approved by the World Health Organisation (WHO) or the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR).

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