States start imposing price caps on Covid-19 tests done by private labs

A medical staffer holds the hand of a patient, in the ICU of the Bassini Hospital, in Cinisello Balsamo, near Milan, Italy, Tuesday, April 14, 2020 | Photo: AP/PTI
The Karnataka government on Friday fixed the price for coronavirus disease (Covid-19) tests at Rs 2,250 for samples it sends to private laboratories.

According to a circular issued by the state health and family welfare department, private labs have to share data on the diagnosis of Covid-19 with the state government and ICMR on a real-time basis. The state government will, however, not provide any testing kits or other accessories to the private labs. 

It has so far approved 11 government and five private labs in the state for testing samples. Some private labs that have approval have been conducted the tests as part of their corporate social responsibility. 

“We were doing all tests at Neuberg Anand from day one and costs are subsidised by our charitable trusts. We were also doing testing for the Karnataka government for free. Hence, this is a welcome move as we may be able to get the cost of materials covered,” said GSK Velu, managing director of Neuberg Diagnostics.

Neuberg Anand Reference Laboratory in Shivajinagar, Bengaluru, was the first private laboratory in Karnataka to get ICMR approval. Meanwhile, Neuberg Diagnostics has also agreed to test samples at Rs 2,500 for the Tamil Nadu government.

Mumbai

The Karnataka government is not the first to implement such a measure. In Mumbai, where the number of cases at hotspots continues to grow, diagnostics players say the  Brihanmumbai Municipal (BMC) has been paying Rs 3,500 per test for samples sent by it.  “The rate is Rs 3,500 per test for those labs that accept their orders,” said A Velumani of Thyrocare. 

He added that anything below Rs 3,000 would be demoralising and would not encourage scaling up of testing. The head of another leading private laboratory felt labs should now speak to the ICMR and find out what are the real costs of doing these tests.
500K rapid antibody test kits being distributed to states: Health ministry

At a daily media briefing about updates on Covid-19 situation, Joint Secretary in the Health Ministry Lav Agarwal informed that 500,000 rapid antibody testing kits, which arrived from China on Thursday, were being distributed to states for districts with high case burden. PTI


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