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Demand for Covid self-test kits shoot up in Mumbai

Published on Dec 31, 2021 08:44 PM IST

The rapidly increasing cases of Covid-19 in Mumbai have led to an increase in the demand for self-testing kits. Chemists in the city said the demand has started over the past week after a lull of several months

Demand for Covid self-test kits shoot up in Mumbai (Stock Pic)

Mumbai The rapidly increasing cases of Covid-19 in Mumbai have led to an increase in the demand for self-testing kits. Chemists in the city said the demand has started over the past week after a lull of several months.

“Since the past four days, we have sold 50 to 60 kits every day,” said Jayantilal Dagha, owner of the Mahavir Medical in Chakala. “Before that, we were selling about three-to-four. Many corporate offices have mandated these tests for the employees who are coming to work. There has been a lot of demand from nearby offices,” he said.

The self-testing kits available in the market are rapid antigen kits that give out the result in less than 30 minutes. Rapid antigen tests have higher chances of false-negative results. Thus, doctors warn that a negative result from a self-test should not be considered confirmatory, and a RT-PCR

(Reverse Transcription Polymerase Chain Reaction) test should be undertaken. However, a positive result could be considered as a confirmation of Covid-19.

The self-test kits, available over the counter in chemist shops, contain a sterile swab, disposable bag, a prefilled extraction tube and a test card. The suspected patients are required to insert the swab stick in both their nostrils, then dip the swab into the extraction tube and put a few drops of the liquid from the tube onto the test card. The test provides a negative or a positive result with the help of the control lines on the test card. As many as seven self-test kits have been approved by the Indian Council of Medical Research including Coviself by Mylab, CoviFind by Meril Diagnostics, PanBio by Abbott among others. The cost of these kits ranges between 250 to 350.

“We had stocked CoviFind and Coviself for some time now, but there was hardly any demand for them. Suddenly, in the past 10 days, the demand has increased,” said Kamlesh Bhatia, owner of Bhatia Medical in Santacruz. “We are selling five to 10 kits every day,” he said.

According to Hakim Kapasi, a member of the Andheri Chemist Association, most of the pharmacies did not stock the self-test kits because of lack of demand. “Now, everyone is calling for stocks,” he said.

The companies have also seen a surge in demand. “Due to the increase in Covid-19 cases, we have witnessed a 200% jump in sales of our self-test kit, CoviSelf, in December compared to November,” said Hasmukh Rawal, founder and managing director of Mylab Discovery Solutions. “Maharashtra, West Bengal, Rajasthan, Delhi and Andhra Pradesh are the top states where the demand for our kits is high,” he said.

Infectious disease expert Dr Anita Mathew from Mulund’s Fortis Hospital said that self-test kits are a great tool if used judiciously and responsibly. “A positive self-test can help in immediately alerting the patients, but people who do self-tests should declare their positive results, follow isolation protocol and behave responsibly. The problem arises when many don’t follow these steps,” she said.

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