COVID-19: 1st govt-approved K'taka lab to begin testing

State’s first govt-approved pvt lab to begin Covid-19 tests today

Representative image. (Credit: Pixabay Photo)

The Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) has authorised a private lab in Bengaluru to test coronavirus samples. 

The approval comes as government labs struggle to test the increasing number of samples. Amid the surging cases of Covid-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus, the government last week said it would bring in about 50 private labs and spruce up diagnostic infrastructure. 

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ICMR sources said the Neuberg Anand Reference Laboratory is Karnataka’s first private lab to get government approval for Covid-19 testing. Capable of testing 100 samples a day, the lab hopes to be ready by Tuesday evening to start testing the samples. 

As per the ICMR guidelines, the lab will not charge more than Rs 4,500 per test: Rs 1,500 for screening assay and Rs 3,000 for confirmatory assay.

“As I understand, the ICMR won’t (directly) be sending samples,” Dr Sujay Prasad, Medical Director, Neuberg Anand Reference Laboratory, told DH. “Nursing homes and hospitals interested in getting the Covid-19 samples tested and walk-in patients falling in the criteria set by the ICMR will be tested here.”

Reiterating that the lab is bound by ICMR guidelines, Dr Prasad said if the patient has no travel history but has been in hospital with
symptoms of respiratory illness like pneumonia, he or she can be tested.

The private labs will get the testing kits from vendors like Roche and Thermo. The ICMR has urged the private sector to offer tests for free or at subsidised rates “at the time of public emergency”. “So far, our vendors haven’t committed to any subsidy and I don’t expect them to do charity on our behalf,” Dr Prasad said. 

The lab received about 200 testing kits on Monday, which will last two days, assuming that it tests 100 patients a day. “By Tuesday, we’ll validate running our controls and by (Tuesday) evening we should start testing,” he added. 

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