Haryana slashes costs of Covid-19 tests
The Haryana health department has further reduced the cost of Reverse Transcription-Polymerase Chain Reaction (RT-PCR) tests from ₹1,200 to ₹900, confirmed the senior state official on Thursday. The testing cost of rapid antigen test has also been brought down from ₹650 to ₹500.
With this new development, costs of Covid-19 tests have been slashed twice. In the first week of October, the cost was brought down to ₹1,200 from ₹1,600. Private labs at that time had said that ₹1,200 fails to cover the total cost of the test and cuts their margin considerably.
On Thursday, in an order issued by the state health department, private labs were directed not to charge amount higher than the new defined cost. This time, however, private labs said that with the reduced cost, the testing volume has to be increased to cover up the incurring costs. According to them and district health officials, as Covid-19 cases continue to show an upward trajectory with at least 398 infection confirmed on Thursday, testing can be expected to increase due to affordability.
When asked about the impact of the reduced charges on testing, Rajeev Arora, additional chief secretary, state health department, said that decision has been taken only after consultation with the private labs. “The rates of the RT-PCR kits are declining. Our officials are keeping watch on the cost and immediately taking action when appropriate. Even the cost of consumables is included in the testing slab,” said Arora.
The costs of other tests to detect the presence of SARS-CoV-2 virus in the body, such as antibody test (₹250), TrueNat (₹2,000) and CBNAAT (₹2,400) continue to remain the same.On Friday, at least 2,895 RT-PCR and 282 antigen tests were conducted.
Dr Virender Yadav, chief medical officer, said, “It is likely that testing might increase due to affordability. But there are multiple aspects to testing with the changing situation. Due to festival season people won’t turn up in large numbers. We will have to wait to observe the testing trend.”
Santosh Kumar, microbiologist, MolQ laboratory, said, that it would be a challenge to conduct tests at the new price. “The market will be competitive now, therefore the testing volume will have to be increased to cover up the cost.”
SPIKE IN INFECTION
On Thursday, the number of active cases reached an all-time high of 3,303, while the total count reached 29,102. The Covid-19 toll stood at 207 with one new death. Currently, cases are increasing at more than 12% weekly positivity rate in Gurugram.