By Shambhavi Naik
The response to the COVID-19 pandemic rests on the ability to test for infected patients quickly and at scale. Exhaustive testing underpins effective containment strategies, helps estimate healthcare requirements and decreases the toll on delivery of essential services exerted by complete lockdowns.
However, India’s current testing capacity is of 100,000 samples/day and per million testing rate is poor as compared with other countries. This testing capacity needs to be ramped up to reach at least 450,000 samples/day for India to stay abreast of the disease spread.
There are two main challenges to increasing capacity – availability of testing kits and testing facilities with trained personnel to perform the testing.
To increase availability of testing kits, there is a need to incentivise indigenous manufacturing through tax exemptions and advanced purchase agreements as well as streamlining procurement from foreign sources.
Currently, private laboratories contribute to roughly 17% of COVID-19 testing in laboratories. Removal of price ceilings on testing will help the private sector contribute more to the testing capacity.
Improving testing capacity will help India make a calibrated response, balancing economic and healthcare interests. Further, India has an opportunity to become a leading manufacturer of quality testing kits and service provider for testing capabilities.Takshashila - How to improve testing for COVID-19_V1.0