Haryana: The state health department on Friday issued an order, allowing private labs and hospitals to conduct Covid-19 antigen and IgG antibody tests, while putting a cap on the testing charges at the same time. The decision has been taken almost two-and-a-half months after the private labs approached the health department seeking permission to start the testing. Officials privy to the matter said private labs and hospitals all this while continued to conduct these tests without any fixed price.
Based on the advice of the experts and after taking the costs of the kits and consumables into account, the department has capped the price of rapid antigen testing at ₹ 650 and ₹250 for the IgG antibody test. The latter does not detect active Covid-19 infection but confirms the history of contracting the virus. The gold standard of front-line Covid-19 test is the Reverse Transcription Polymerase Chain Reaction (RT-PCR), the price for which has been fixed at ₹2,400.
Rajeev Arora, additional chief secretary, health department said, “Citizens can get themselves tested for rapid antigen and antibody tests in the private labs/hospitals for the diagnosis of Covid-19. They will have to show identify proof and prescription from a doctor to get tested. The process is similar to getting a RT-PCR test done. The fixed price is inclusive of sample pick-up, packing and transportation within the state.”
As per the guidelines issued by the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR), states have been advised to use antigen kits for detection of the virus in hot spots and containment zones. Symptomatic people with influenza-like illness, asymptomatic patients who are high-risk contacts of confirmed cases, people with co-morbidities, and high-risk patients, who are either hospitalised or seeking hospitalisation, are to be given priority for testing.
Antigen tests look for specific protein associated with the SARS-CoV-2 virus — the pathogen that causes Covid-19. In the antibody test, blood samples are collected to check for antibodies which appear after the person is infected with Covid-19 and stays in the body for months.
In the first week of June, as reported by HT, four private labs had approached the district health department and shared the proposed rates for conducting the tests, with antibody tests ranging from ₹600 to ₹1,450 per sample. The proposed rate for antigen test was ₹500 to ₹950 per test. The district health department had submitted its recommendations to the state to fix price for IgG antibody ELISA test at ₹1,000 per test and ₹800 for antigen test. Currently, both the tests are being conducted by the health department.