In a significant development amid the surging Coronavirus cases in the country, the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) has given consent to 12 private laboratories across the country to conduct testing for Coronavirus. Private laboratories have been functional in states such as Gujarat, Haryana, Karnataka, Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu and Delhi.
"Till today, we have registered at least 12 private laboratories to perform the COVID-19 diagnostic services and they have started their work from now on. All these 12 laboratories have over 15,000 laboratory chains across the country. Our work is in progress to include more laboratories soon," said Dr Balram Bhargava, Director General of ICMR.
While the government labs tested for free, the private labs would charge customers to conduct Covid-19 diagnostics test. The Government of India has notified guidelines laid down by the ICMR for COVID-19 testing in private labs, which has capped the cost of the test at Rs. 4,500. The cost may include Rs 1,500 as a screening test for suspect cases and an additional Rs 3,000 for contamination test. However, ICMR has urged private labs to provide free or subsidized testing "in this hour of national public health emergency".
"As far as testing kits manufacturers are concerned, we have fast-tracked approval for Indian COVID-19 testing kits for commercial use. About two manufacturers have already got the approval," Dr Bhargava said.
"This is in addition to the US FDA approved kits that are currently being used. ICMR has established a fast-track mechanism for validation for no-FDA approved kits at ICMR and NIV Pune," he added.
"Only test kits with 100 per cent concordance among true positive and true negative samples have been recommended for commercial use in India. In addition, US FDA approved kits can be used directly after due approval from DGCI and intimation to ICMR," Dr Bhargava further said.
As the country grapples with Coronavirus, 467 confirmed cases with 9 deaths have been reported in India, while 34 have been cured and discharged according to the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare.
(With ANI inputs)