ICMR nod to B'luru-based pvt lab for COVID-19 testing

Bengaluru-based private lab gets ICMR nod for COVID-19 testing

Representative image. (Credit: AFP Photo)

Neuberg Anand Reference Laboratory in Shivajinagar, Bengaluru, is the first private laboratory in Karnataka to get the approval of the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) for testing COVID-19 samples. 

With the number of COVID-19 cases swelling, the government last week decided to rope in around 50 private laboratories to help increase the capacity of diagnostic services.

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The lab has a capacity to test 100 samples per day and expects to be ready for testing by Tuesday evening. As per the guidelines laid down by the ICMR, the lab will not charge more than Rs 4,500 per test, i.e., Rs 1,500 for the screening assay and Rs 3,000 for the confirmatory assay. 

Dr Sujay Prasad, Medical Director, Neuberg Anand Reference Laboratory, Bengaluru, told DH, "ICMR will not be sending any samples as I understand. Nursing homes and hospitals who are interested in getting COVID-19 samples tested, and walk-in patients who fall under the testing criteria set by ICMR will be tested here. We are bound by their guidelines. If the patient has no travel history but is in the hospital with symptoms of respiratory illness like pneumonia, he or she can be tested."

Vendors like Roche and Thermo will be supplying testing kits to private labs. ICMR had asked the private sector to offer testing for free or at least at subsidised rates 'at this time of public health emergency'. "So far our vendors have not committed to any subsidy and I don't expect them to do charity on our behalf," said Prasad.

Also Read: Coronavirus India update: State-wise total number of confirmed cases

"We are expecting our kit to arrive today with 200 tests. This will cover us for two days assuming 100 patients get tested in a day. Soon enough, we will ramp up. By tomorrow we will do validation of running our controls. By evening we should be able to start testing. We will be setting up a collection centre at our Shivajinagar lab outside the building in a day or two," he added.

The government strictly said that all COVID-19 positive samples will need to be transported to ICMR- National Institute of Virology, Pune under suitable biosafety and biosecurity precautions as laid down by ICMR.

Further, the negative samples will be destroyed within one week of collection. Also, the samples cannot be shared with any other organisation for any purpose.

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