Karnataka govt plans to slash cost of Covid test | Bengaluru News – Times of India


BENGALURU: The cost of a Covid-19 test in Karnataka, regardless of the mode, is likely to come down with the government initiating the process to revise prices. Officials say the cost of a test could be slashed by up to 30%.
The last time the cost was revised was in December 2020, when the first wave of Covid-19 infections had reduced significantly. The government had reduced the price of an RT-PCR test conducted in a private lab by half — from Rs 1,600 to Rs 800. The cost was capped at Rs 500 if referred by a government hospital. The cost of a rapid antigen test (RAT) was fixed at Rs 400.
Now, the cost of these tests, besides other modes like cartridge-based rapid tests such as TrueNat (Rs 1,250), CBNAAT (Rs 2,400) and Abbott Express Test, which is currently in use at Kempegowda International Airport on international fliers, are expected to fall. Some countries like the UAE demand negative test reports not older than four hours prior to departure prompting authorities to set up testing centres in international airports.
Officials say falling prices of raw materials such as antigens (chemicals used in Covid tests), increased volume of production of test kits, and sliding demand since the pandemic situation has improved, are among top reasons that prompted the government to consider slashing rates.
“It’s been a while since costs of tests were revised, and we think it is high time to rationalise them. The new rates will be announced in a week or two,” said Dr CN Manjunath, nodal officer for Covid-19 testing.
Dr KV Trilok Chandra, health commissioner, said the health and family welfare department has asked the state Covid-19 Technical Advisory Committee (TAC) to look into the proposal of slashing rates. He said the government will take a call based on TAC’s recommendations.
Dr MK Sudarshan, chairman, TAC, confirmed the committee is working on the proposal, saying: “We are studying the price structure in other states and are talking to various stakeholders including private laboratories.”
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Private hospitals and laboratories appear to have their own set of concerns, and they have urged the government to consider their opinions too before finalising rates.
“The government should arrive at a consensus on pricing through negotiation and dialogue,” said Dr H Sudarshan Ballal, chairman, Manipal Hospitals. “While it is extremely important to continue with the levels of testing conducted in the state and maintain the momentum, it is also important to ensure the business viability of private laboratories.”
Besides slashing rates, the government is also looking to ramp up testing, particularly in view of falling numbers of daily testing. Against the government’s self-imposed target of 1.5 lakh tests per day, only 1.1 lakh tests are being conducted on average daily. More than 1.7 lakh tests were conducted in the state on September 1, but the numbers began falling thereafter. On September 20, only 1.1 lakh tests were conducted.
“There seems to be a bit of hesitation among people to undergo Covid tests, especially after the second wave receded and vaccination coverage has increased,” said Dr Manjunath. “But it is important to carry on testing aggressively. We plan to ramp up the drive through random testing with a special focus on school students.”





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Sagar Biswas

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