Private diagnostic laboratories that have received the approval of Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) to carry out COVID-19 tests are finding it difficult to source enough personal protection equipment (PPE), the coveralls for their sample collection staff. Labs are hoping that the thrust given by Centre in ramping up the availability of critical life saving equipment, including PPE, may speed up the production and supply of such products.
Leading players that have enlisted with ICMR to carry out the tests said that their facilities are ready, staff trained, but they are yet to get sufficient number of diagnostic test kits from the companies that have been allowed to supply them, and PPEs from the open market. The option of importing diagnostic kits is also difficult due to the lockdown and disruptions in cargo movement.
On latest count, ICMR had approved 26 private laboratories for COVID-19 testing in the country. Eight of them are in Maharashtra, four in Delhi, three each in Gujarat, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu and Telangana and two in Haryana.
The diagnostic players and hospitals whose laboratories have got approval include Lal Path Labs, Dr Dangs Lab, Indraprastha Apollo Hospitals, Max Super Speciality Hospital, Unipath Specialty Laboratory, Supratech Micropath Laboratory & Research Institute, SN GeneLab, Strand Life Sciences, SRL Limited, Neuberg Anand Reference Laboratory, Kasturba Hospital, Cancyte Technologies, Sri Shankara Research Centre, Thyrocare Technologies Limited, Suburban Diagnostics (India), Metropolis Healthcare, Sir H N Reliance Foundation Hospital and Research Centre, Reliance Life Sciences, A G Diagnostics, Kokilaben Dhirubhai Ambani Hospital, InfeXn Laboratories, CMC Vellore, Vijaya Diagnostic Centre and Vimta Labs.
The two companies who have been allowed to supply diagnostic kits to private laboratories so far are Indian firm Mylab and German firm Altona Diagnostics. Mylab informed that they will start supply of kits within a day or two.
As on March 24, of the 22,694 samples from 21,804 individuals that India screened, 536 individuals were tested positive. The Prime Minister in his address to the nation had announced that the government has set aside Rs 15,000 crore to augment healthcare facilities and infrastructure for the management of COVID-19 outbreak.