‘Need for dedicated Covid hospitals with ICU beds’, says Biocon chairperson Kiran Mazumdar Shaw
The Chairperson of Bangalore headquartered biopharma major, Biocon, Kiran Mazumdar Shaw, has been a key figure and member of the working group aiding and advising the government on the current Covid-19 pandemic facing the country. In an email exchange, she spoke to Hindustan Times about the move by the government to finally allow private labs to do tests for Covid-19 and, importantly, on what more it should do going ahead. Edited excerpts:
What do you think of the government’s move to allow private labs to do the tests? Have adequate safeguards been taken to ensure that nobody fleeces a panic stricken public?
I think the move to involve private labs is imperative to increase capacity. This has been jointly formulated (by the government and private sector), so there is no question of fleecing anyone.
What about the price cap of Rs 4500? Is this good enough for private labs to get involved wholeheartedly?
The Rs 4500 price was what was arrived at by the private labs. I think this will enable us to generate much larger data, which right now is a challenge due to the targeted testing that the government is conducting due to the limitations of government labs and kits. I commend the ICMR for facilitating this.
Does India need more aggressive testing say like Germany or some other countries have done?
Many countries had initially restricted the participation of private sector, including the US, where CDC finally had to open it up to private labs and kits.
What other steps does the government need to take in the current situation?
Moving ahead, the government will need to have a preparedness plan for quarantine centres, dedicated Covid-19 hospitals with ICU beds. The government also needs to stockpile ventilators, PPEs, sanitisers, drugs and medical supplies.