May 4, 2021 5:31:04 am
AFTER RAPID Antigen test (RAT) and RT-PCR test kits, the state is now facing an acute shortage of diagnostic kits for blood tests to determine the extent of coronavirus infection. Further, pathology equipment such as test tubes, sample collection kits and reagents is also running short across the state.
Diagnostic blood tests, including D-Dimer that can be used to help rule out the presence of a serious blood clot, Ferritin tests and C-reactive protein (CRP) test that can be used in the early diagnosis of coronavirus are the worst affected among all these tests, say pathology laboratories across the state.
Dr Rajendra Lalani, president of Gujarat State Pathologist and Microbiologist Association from Rajkot said, “There was a shortage of antigen kits but now due to high demand of these diagnostic tests to ascertain the extent of infection, supply has not been able to meet this demand.”
Laboratories said that while the suppliers are limited, the demand that has jumped to more than 400 per cent over the past two weeks has way surpassed the existing production capacities. Meanwhile, a few laboratories have also highlighted the issue of quality amid this shortage, smaller labs that are worst affected have stopped altogether conducting these tests.
“There has been a 400-500 increase in the workload of these tests. For instance, in a month where two kits were required for the CRP test, this has increased to over 10 kits now. While the manufacturing companies remain the same, every lab is facing serious issues in meeting this overload in demand. In the middle of this shortage and high demand labs are forced to compromise on the quality,” said Dr Mukesh Maheshwari, senior pathologist and coordinator of Indian Medical Association Gujarat Branch.
Among these diagnostic tests, there is highest demand and thus shortage for D-Dimer test. Nearly 100 tests can be conducted through one kit. “Since we have fixed suppliers and companies, we have to rely on them only for the supplies. Now what is happening is when we demand 40 kits, in return we get only five while remaining stock is delivered in lots say 5 after ten days and so on. For D-Dimer test where we were using 1 kit in a month, now we are using 300 kits,” Dr Narendra Patel, director of Green Cross laboratory said.
While, most of the suppliers are based out of Mumbai, Chennai, Bengaluru, Delhi, a few labs also source these from abroad, depending upon the machine specifications.
Moreover, laboratories in the urban periphery or districts are getting most affected by this shortage. “When the supplier is getting only 5 kits against a demand of 50 as the demand has shot up by more than five times, he tries to distribute it first among cities like Ahmedabad. Thus, peripheral areas or districts like Mehsana or Patan will not be getting the supply. So, in a way the load that has shifted from these areas to cities has also overburdened the labs for these tests,” said Dr Anshul Agarwal , senior pathologist at a private hospital in Bopal area of Ahmedabad.
Dr Agarwal said due to these issues, nearly 10-15 per cent of the labs in Ahmebadad city alone have stopped these tests. Also, with this shift towards these Covid-related diagnostic tests only, the lifestyle-related tests including lipid profile tests and others have reduced to less than 10 per cent. “Thus, there is a lopsided demand at the pathology labs,” said Dr Maheshwari.
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