Mumbai: Influenza tests get pricey with surge in demand

Mumbai: Influenza tests get pricey with surge in demand

State health officials said with limited public facilities offering tests within the city, there should be some move towards restricting test prices.

Swapnil MishraUpdated: Thursday, March 16, 2023, 11:00 PM IST
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PTI

The demand for swine influenza tests has surged drastically amid rising influenza-A (H3N2) cases, prompting some private hospitals to charge higher amounts for testing. The cost of one test for H1N1 (swine flu) comes to around ₹4,000-6,000. State health officials said with limited public facilities offering tests within the city, there should be some move towards restricting test prices.

Expensive tests

According to a senior doctor, the high cost of these tests is discouraging people from testing and some doctors are not even recommending it because of the cost. “Since there are no separate tests for H3N2, the samples are tested for all viruses which makes it costly. We recommend the test to only those not responding to treatment and people who have progressive illnesses,” he said, adding that if one family member is affected, everyone needs to get tested. This would work out to ₹20,000-40,000, depending on the hospital charges and size of the family.

Dr Subhash Salunkhe, epidemiologist and former director of health for Maharashtra, said, “Like Covid and H1N1, H3N2 also has the potential to cause lung infection and complications. The vulnerable population remains the same.” People need to take basic precautions like masking, following hand hygiene and cough hygiene, he added.

Doctors suggest ways to control spread

Dr Salunkhe asserted that the government should have year-round surveillance machinery for such viruses. “Also, steps should be taken to reduce the cost of the flu test which is currently not affordable to the common man. Of more than 60 labs authorised to conduct influenza-A tests, half are privately run.

Metropolis director Nilesh Shah said, “We charge around Rs5,500 for Covi-Influenza panel testing. This covers H3N2 along with other influenza viruses and Covid.” Meanwhile, Sujit Jain, director of Mylabs which provides services to hospitals and small labs, said, “We charge about Rs1,000 per test for H3N2 to labs and hospitals.”

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