The Delhi High Court on Tuesday asked the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) government in Delhi to ensure that the results and findings of the fourth phase of sero surveillance, which is being conducted by the authorities and is due to finish this week, are not leaked till the matter is taken up by the court.
A division bench of the high court presided over by Justices Hima Kohli and Subramonium Prasad passed the directions after Delhi government`s additional standing counsel Satyakam informed the court that the sero surveillance would conclude on October 22 and the report would come a fortnight later.
"Our senior professor who is going to analyse the sero surveillance reports is down with COVID-19," the Delhi government submitted before the court.
The division bench which was hearing a Public Interest Litigation filed by advocate Rakesh Malhotra seeking an increase in the COVID-19 testing numbers in the national capital and getting speedy results.
The high court also expressed displeasure over the delay in informing patients about the results of COVID-19 tests, which should be conveyed in 24 hours. It passed the said observation after noting that one of the court staff got his test report after four days.
The bench has also directed the Centre for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) and the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) to file an affidavit regarding the new testing technique called FELUDA, which had last month got approval from the Drug Controller General of India (DCGI) and is pending approvals from the ICMR.
"FELUDA tests have not come out in the market due to the pendency of approval from ICMR. Affidavit in this regard shall be filed in 2 weeks by ICMR and CSIR," the bench said while dictating the order. The bench will now hear the matter next on November 11.
Developed by Tata CRISPR (Clustered Regularly Interspaced Short Palindromic Repeats) and the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR)-Institute of Genomics and Integrative Biology (IGIB), FELUDA test is a paper strip test, similar to a pregnancy test.
It has already been validated by the Department of Atomic Energy`s National Centre for Biological Sciences, Bangalore, and approved by the DCGI for a commercial launch. Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan had earlier informed in his weekly webinar - Sunday Samvaad - that rollout of the FELUDA test is expected in the next few weeks.
Earlier on September 30, the high court had pulled up the Delhi government over non-utilisation of the actual testing capacity after it noted that Delhi has the capacity of conducting 15,000 tests per day through RT-PCR mode while actual number of tests being conducted through this mode is still floating around 11,000 per day.
"Delhi has the capacity of conducting 15,000 tests per day through RT-PCR mode, 4,000 RT-PCR tests per day are not being utilised, which does not make any sense when cases of COVID-19 infection during the period between 14th September, 2020 to 27th September, 2020, remain in the range of 3,500-4,000 cases per day with only one exception on 20th September, 2020 when the positive cases reported were 2,548," the court had said.
The court further noted that the report of Sero Surveillance-4 reflects a reduction of the IgG antibodies seroprevalence from 28.7 per cent (as in Sero Surveillance-3) to 25.1 per cent.
"The seroprevalence has declined in Northwest and Central Districts but has increased in West, South, Northwest and East Districts," the court noted.
As per the report submitted before the high court, the seroprevalence was found to be more in the female gender during the three rounds of sero surveillance and least in the age group of 18 to 49 years, as compared to the age group of those below 18 years and those who are above 50 years.
"The conclusion in the Sero Surveillance-3 report is that there is a need to enhance the focus on sample representativeness of the survey in Central, Northeast and North Districts," the court noted further.