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False positives from private covid testing labs put govt labs in a fix

Load on public labs have risen as fear of false positive results forces them to double-check pvt results.

, ET Bureau|
Last Updated: Mar 30, 2020, 06.27 AM IST
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PTI
Coronavirus
India allowed private labs to test last week and in the last three days 43 labs have started testing.
Coronavirus

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MUMBAI: Individuals who have approached private labs for detection of Covid-19 might see a delay in their results as fear of false positive results detected in certain labs has led to government labs double-checking these samples, ET has learnt.

India allowed private labs to test last week and in the last three days 43 labs have started testing for Covid-19, with most of them offering home collections.

The private labs have said that they will be giving out results in a day’s time. However, that may not be possible. In Mumbai, the district with the highest number of Covid-19 positive cases, the testing load on Kasturba hospital has doubled. The public hospital is not only responsible for lab tests that is conducted on people coming to its facility, but it also has to double check samples coming from private labs.

“There appears to be quality issues. The BMC has asked private labs to put in corrective measures,” said a person closely associated with the matter. Though the addition of private labs has helped government ease the load on the number of people walking into the public hospitals, in of terms technical assessment, their work has doubled, according to this individual.
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On Saturday, in a meeting with all the private labs chains, technicians from Kasturba Hospital have instructed these labs on how to adopt best practices in terms of sample collections, checking samples for accuracy and safe preservation of samples collected from an individual's residences.

India's testing strategy has come under attack from several experts who have claimed that India has not done enough testing that could help it trace & treat the infected patients and contain the spread of disease. India like several other countries such as the UK, Japan and Sweden has not adopted a mass testing approach adopted by South Korea and Germany.

India is still testing 15 people per million. Several issues have led to a slow expansion of testing strategy of India. This includes getting qualified private labs to get into testing, approving the reagents required for testing those who meet 100% criteria of specificity and sensitivity, which means testing for false negative and false positive, among other things.

Despite the multi-layer requirement to get a test kit approved, the drug controller in the last 10 days has screened nearly 18 kit companies, giving approval for only four of them.
(Catch all the Business News, Breaking News Events and Latest News Updates on The Economic Times.)
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