Supreme Court Orders Free Coronavirus Testing For All Indians; But Can This Backfire?
A Supreme Court bench has ordered the Govt to ensure free coronavirus testing for all Indians.
However, some business leaders and experts have shared that this move can backfire. But how?
Supreme Court To Centre: Ensure Free Coronavirus Testing
While hearing a plea from advocate Shashank Deo Sudhi regarding the high charges of coronavirus testing, the bench of justices Ashok Bhushan and Ravindra S Bhatt ordered the Govt to ensure that all citizens are able to get the testing done for free.
Right now, private labs can charge a maximum of Rs 4500 for coronavirus testing.
The bench said, “Private hospitals including labs have an important role to play in containing the scale of the pandemic by extending philanthropic services in the hour of national crisis,”
The bench also ordered that the tests done by private labs must be certified by by National Accreditation Board for Testing and Calibration Laboratories (NABL) or agencies approved by the World Health Organisation (WHO) and the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR).
There are 56 private labs that have been allowed by Govt to test for coronavirus, whereas 136 Govt labs exists for the same testing.
Now, the big question: Is this free testing feasible?
Free Tests Will Reduce The Total Number Of Tests?
Kiran Mazumdar Shaw, who is the executive chairperson of Biocon Limited, which is one of India’s biggest biotech firms in the world, has expressed her reservations on this order by Supreme Court.
As per her, if all tests are made free, then it will reduce the total number of tests being done in India.
She said, “Humanitarian in intent but impractical to implement – I fear testing will plummet. These are small businesses they’re providing testing at cost and not profiteering. How will they pay their employees?”
Although Supreme Court bench said that Govt should reimburse the expenses borne by private labs for coronavirus testing, and they shouldn’t charge any amount from the citizens; Centre hasn’t yet responded as to how this free testing will be done.
Neuberg Diagnostics CEO GSK Velu suggested a new angle, which will benefit the private labs, and citizens both.
He said, “But we feel government or corporates through their CSR (corporate social responsibility) funds should reimburse Rs 2,000-2,500 to private labs so that their material costs are recovered.”
We are awaiting Govt’s response in Supreme Court order. We will keep you updated, as more details come in.