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Tests set to become cheaper in Bengal, labs wait for govt nod

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Covid-19 tests could become cheaper in the state as some private labs have decided to reduce the cost while others are waiting for a directive from the state government. This move comes after ICMR told the state governments to appeal to the private labs to reduce the cost of Covid test.
The central government had earlier capped the charge for a Covid test at Rs 4,500. Those running the labs said that cost of kits has come down now and that they are in a position to reduce the cost.

“We have decided to conduct the test at Rs 3,900 now for our own patients as well as swab samples sent to us from other hospitals,” said Alok Roy, chairman of Medica Group of Hospitals, which currently has the capacity to conduct about 300 tests per day.

Out of the 42 labs in the state that are conducting Covid tests, 11 are privately run and majority of them are located in Kolkata.

“We appreciate the step taken up by Medica Hospital suo-motu and would appeal to other private labs to do the same,” said Justice (Retd) Ashim Kumar Banerjee, chairman of West Bengal Clinical Establishment Regulatory Commission.

Dr Lal PathLabs that has the capacity to test about 1,500 tests per day is also likely to bring down the cost per test to Rs 3,200.

“Now the suppliers have reduced the cost of kits, making it possible for us to charge less for a test. We have written to the state government proposing the same. Once we get a nod we will implement the revised cost,” said Monika Prabhakar, head of Dr Lal PathLabs Kolkata.

Hospitals like Peerless are also waiting for a circular from the state government before they start slashing the price.

“With the number of tests increasing, it will dilute the capital investment and hence there is a scope for reducing the cost,” said Sudipta Mitra, spokesperson of Peerless Hospital.

Sources said that the cost of kits for RT-PCR is cheaper than kits for either CBNAAT or TRUENAT. But cost of all tests by any testing method was uniformly capped at Rs 4,500.

“One good thing is that we have also started testing by RT-PCR from last Sunday. Earlier, we were testing using CBNAAT,” said Bhaskar Narayan Chaudhury, microbiologist at Peerless Hospital.

Labs like Suraksha Diagnostics is already testing samples sent by the state government-run hospitals at Rs 2,800 per test. The diagnostic chain is also planning to bring down the cost for test on samples from private hospitals.


Source: Times of India

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