Disparity in COVID-19 testing: Telangana has 21 TrueNat machines, Andhra 340
One reason why Telengana is trailing behind Andhra Pradesh in testing COVID-19 is the less
The COVID-19 pandemic has the entire nation in its grip. Almost all states in India are seeing an alarming spike in cases following the easing of lockdown restrictions. Though, Maharashtra, Delhi and Tamil Nadu continue to lead in the number of positive cases, other states are rapidly closing the gap. One reason for this spurt in cases, according to experts, is the disparity in testing. Authorities say that this is because of lack of kits and infrastructure. Also Read – 10,000 COVID-19 positive cases cured in 24 hrs: Government issues tips to fight corona stigma
One state that stands out here is Telengana. The COVID-19 epidemic has exposed a major aspect of poor health infrastructure in Telangana. This state has not been able to conduct as many tests as its neighbours. The reason behind this is that Telangana has only 21 TrueNAT machines. Of these 21, seven were ordered by the state government just about three weeks ago. This is much after the pandemic hit the state. ICMR had earlier granted approval for use of TrueNat machines for screening tests for COVID-19. Recently, it also validated the confirmatory tests that could be conducted using the TrueNat machines. But what exactly does TrueNAT have to do with testing? Also Read – Details of COVID-19 hospitals will be available online soon: Nodal officer appointed for the job
More TrueNAT Machines Mean More Testing
Less number of TrueNAT machines means less testing. One TrueNAT machine can test around 40 samples in a span of eight hours. If the machine is run in three shifts with little breaks in between, it can help test at least 100 samples in a day. If a state has hundreds of these machines running 24 hours for days together, the number of testing will also increase drastically. Andhra Pradesh has around 340 such machines and, as a result, was able to test more than 5 lakh samples till now. But the same is not the case with Telangana. This state is barely able to test even 10 per cent of this number. According to the latest list of COVID-19 testing labs by ICMR, while Andhra Pradesh has 42 TrueNAT labs, Telangana has only one private lab for this. Also Read – 1 in 5 people worldwide at risk of severe COVID-19, says new Lancet study
Health Infrastructure Lacking In Telengana
It is evident that Telangana has spent much less on health than is desirable. Molbio Diagnostics, the company which manufactures the TrueNAT machines, said that Telangana had just 14 such machines before the start of the pandemic. This too was given to the state by the Central government. But once the contagion took on the form of a pandemic, the state acquired seven more. Unfortunately, these seven machines have not yet been put to use.
On the other hand, Andhra Pradesh had 225 machines at Primary Health Centres even before the novel coronavirus spread. The state was using these machines to test tuberculosis samples. Then it acquired 90 more machines when the need rose. Once the pandemic took hold, it acquired 125 more.
About The Machine
This is basically a tuberculosis testing platform which is now deployed for COVID-19 tests. The machine takes around 50 minutes to test a sample, is simple to operate and very useful for rapid testing. It can test 10-15 samples in a day. This is a battery-operated device that can be used by clinics with minimal training.
Cost Of TrueNAT Machines
Each machine costs around Rs 13 lakh. Looking at the number of machines in these two states, we see that Andhra Pradesh spend around Rs 28 crore for increasing the number of tests. On the other hand, Telangana spent less than Rs 1 crore.