Having quickly evolved into a pandemic and beating its predecessors like SARS and Nipa in terms of its contagiousness, COVID-19 has emerged as a menace all around the world. The educational institutions are closed; the shops are closed; press conferences have been called off; sport events, parties and concerts have been postponed; offices have shutdown and the roads are empty. There is complete lockdown and no one knows what is next !
At this critical juncture one of the institution dedicated to serving humanity 24X7 is the medical institution – doctors, nurses and diagnostic experts are risking their lives daily to find a solution to this problem. Administering coronavirus tests requires time and supplies that are already running out. But aggressive testing has proven to be the best way to track and isolate the disease, stopping its spread. The best path forward depends on where you are.Let us see how the diagnostic sector is battling COVID-19 and what are they key factors that can help in curtailing it.
For a successful COVID-19 response, there is a need to identify it at a faster pace. By doing so, people infected with the disease can be identified ,isolated and can be treated early using proper methods to break the chains of transmission. The government must also make available an inexpensive, point-of-care, diagnostic kit for use in clinics and homes at a high priority so communities can quickly detect and contain the disease.The key to success is to deliver diagnostic reports in about 6-8 hours. Few International teams have worked at a very commendable speed to make tests for the virus available in record time.
If the lab test results are given early, it buys us valuable time. Across the world many laboratories are now working aggressively to develop fast and effective diagnostic tests for COVID-19. With the help of these tests, the results are likely to be available within 30-60 minutes.
Need for Diagnostic Kits and labs
There is a strong need to have very rapid and reliable molecular diagnostic tests for the new human Coronavirus. Several groups are working to design primers for polymerase chain reaction (PCR). So far, the detection of COVID-19 is possible in laboratories with Real Time-PCR and gene fingerprinting facilities. Unfortunately, there are only a handful of such labs in India. If we can, however, quickly set up an infrastructure , increase number of labs which can help us perform COVID 19 tests, we can be well on our way to defeating it.
Investment in the medical sector
As COVID-19 has become a pandemic today, there is an urgent need to invest more in developing state-of-the-art laboratories equipped with the latest technologies and qualified technicians. The solution will only be found by empowering these kinds of labs who have the necessary tools and the technical know-how that is the need of the hour.
A collaboration between public and private entities
While the Indian Government is also trying its best to deal with this emergency, there is an urgent need for collaboration between government-managed labs and private labs in the country. As many as possible labs , which can deliver quality results should be empanelled for testing. Right diagnostic is the first step towards giving the right treatment and in a country of 1.3 billion-plus population, there is an urgent need for a larger network of quality labs. Such a massive undertaking is impossible without a great alliance between public and private institutions. Both public and private entities have their limitations, but if they join hands and act in tandem, they can compensate for each other’s lacunae and shortcomings and can definitely make a huge difference.
Testing is very important, but let’s not combine testing with the action that we must take. Testing is an important issue, but people seem to link them so much that if you don’t have universal testing, you can’t respond to the outbreak. You really can.