The Maharashtra government has slashed the cost of Covid-19 tests in private laboratories by almost 40 per cent on Monday. Senior health officials confirmed the development, stating that now individuals would not have to pay more than Rs 2,000 to get tested at private laboratories.
Sudhakar Shinde, CEO, State Health Assurance Society, said they had formed a committee to set the charges for Covid-19 testing at private labs and submitted their recommendation to the state government, which has approved it and the same will be implemented from Tuesday. “A cut in the cost of testing was much needed as the current prices charged by private labs are largely unaffordable, despite the reduction in the cost of producing kits,” he said.
Earlier in July, the state government had cut the cost of the test to Rs 2,500 from the previous Rs 4,500. The RT-PCR (reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction) tests are considered the gold standard for Covid-19 detection.
Officials said the price has been lowered by about Rs 1,000-1,500, depending on the cost of procuring an RT-PCR testing kit, which has also dropped to about Rs 500 from Rs 4,000 in May. The cost of sample pick-up from the collection site has been reduced to Rs 1,200 from the earlier Rs 1,900; sample collection from kiosks, hospital centres and Covid collection centres will now cost Rs 1,600 as opposed to Rs 2,200 while collection from a residence will cost Rs 2,000 from the previous Rs 2,500, according to the notification issued by state government.
The decision to consider price cuts comes as the Indian Council of Medical Research liberalised the testing policy, to allow individuals to get themselves tested, regardless of their symptoms. The Maharashtra government had passed a similar order at the end of July, but the overall testing levels in the state did not increase significantly.
COVID vaccine trial at KEM, then Nair
Phases 2 and 3 of the clinical trial of COVIDSHIELD, the Oxford vaccine for Covid-19, are tentatively scheduled to begin on September 10 or 11. The trial will first begin at KEM Hospital and later, Nair Hospital, with over 250 volunteers already having enrolled. Also, KEM has already embarked on the trial of the BCG vaccination (TB vaccination for children) for Covid-19. Additional Municipal Commisioner Suresh Kakani said they had received approval from the ICMR to begin trials at KEM Hospital first.