Pune: Considering the alarmingly increasing cases of COVID-19, the use of the Corona Antigen Testing, which gives instant results is being done only at certain municipal centers in Pune. Private labs are allowed to engage in the process, but need to be rated by the National Accreditation Board for Testing and Calibration Laboratories (NABL).
Citizens, pathologists, lab operators, and the Indian Medical Association (IMA) are now demanding that the Centre and the state government repeal of this condition and allow antigen testing in private labs.
The Government of Maharashtra has decided to start rapid antigen testing of the corona with the 'Standard Q Covid-19 AG-Detection Kit' developed by Biosensor by South Korea. This can help in conducting a lot of tests in little time. Also, the report will be available in 30 minutes. It costs between Rs 500 and Rs 700 in a private lab.
Many Covid-19 suspects are having difficulty in getting tested in Pune as they do not know where the tests are being conducted at present. This is causing the infection to spread. Allowing a private lab would help benefit the general public.
According to the ICMR guidelines, private labs should not be allowed unless they have NABL ratings. Many are being denied permission for that reason. There are about 5,000 pathologists in the state and in Pune with postgraduate degrees in pathology and microbiology. About 500 of those private labs have applied for permission. There are only six to seven NABL accredited laboratories in Pune and only 48 NABL accredited laboratories in Maharashtra.
Benefit from being diagnosed quickly
If private labs start conducting tests it will be easier for the citizens of Pune to get tested immediately if they suspect they have the infection. The diagnostic process will get a big boost as results will be available, in just 30 minutes and at a very low fee as compared to the RTPCR test.
Speaking to Sakal Times, Dr Avinash Bhondwe, President, IMA Maharashtra said, "This unnecessary condition of NABL accreditation should be removed. At present, in government hospitals, this test is allowed to be taken under the supervision of a medical officer with or without a pathology or microbiology qualification. Then the question arises as to why these highly educated, qualified, and experienced doctors are denied permission despite the need today."
Dr Aparna Joshi, Secretary, Indian Association of Practicing Pathologists and Microbiologists, while speaking to Sakal Times said, "Private labs require high-quality equipment to perform these tests, not everyone has them. Only 10 per cent of the labs in Pune have such equipment. Therefore, this test is not performed in many labs."