Health officials fear underestimation as self-test kit sales skyrocket in subways

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Amid a steady rise in Covid-19 infections across the country, health officials are raising new concern. More than 5 thousand self-test kits have been sold by a single company in the financial capital in the past week. The growing number of self-tests during the Omicron push raise fears of an underestimation.

Mumbai reported 20,318 new coronavirus infections on Saturday, slightly less than the day before, and five deaths. The city now has more than a lakh of active cases, while the number of cases in the country’s financial capital rose to 8,95,098 and the death toll to 16,399. As of Friday, Mumbai had reported 20,971 new cases and six deaths.

Why do people choose rapid tests over RT-PCR?

The self-test seems to have become overnight the mainstay of the diagnosis of Covid-19 in the city. A Times of India (TOI) report said several doctors recommend rapid tests as well as RT-PCR appointments and results take an average of 48 to 72 hours. Given the limited duration of Omicron’s disease, the wait for an RT-PCR report is almost in vain. One subject matter expert pointed out that a positive home test allows a person to self-isolate faster and begin treatment as soon as possible.

How many kits were sold during the Omicron surge?

Mylab Discovery Solutions which makes ‘CoviSelf’ told TOI that it sold five lakh kits between January 1-7 in Mumbai alone. The cost per rapid test kit is Rs 250 and the company that sells the kit for Rs 250 had wholesaled 25,000 units during the last week of December, when cases were just starting to increase.

Is a similar trend observed in other states?

With Mumbai, Covid infections in the nation’s capital are rising steadily. The same company that sold in Mumbai reportedly sold around 2.5 lakh of kits in Delhi in January. Hasmukh Rawal, the founder of the Pune-based company, told TOI they saw a 500% increase in sales in one week.

Other companies that make similar test kits have also noticed similar trends in places where cases are increasing rapidly. The other self-test kit players – Abbott which makes Panbio and Meril which makes CoviFind – have seen big leaps in sales. , although they did not disclose sales figures. Sanjeev Bhatt, senior vice president of Meril, said he saw a 50% increase in demand week over week. The company claims to have the capacity to manufacture 20 million kits per month.

Does that mean the real numbers are much higher?

While manufacturers of rapid tests are pleased with the surge in sales, health officials in these subways have expressed concern that several cases are slipping under the radar. A city official told TOI they only receive an average of 2,700 to 3,000 self-test notifications per day, of which 250 to 300 are positive. “People should have a sense of responsibility for recording results in the app. We have no other way of finding out, ”the official said.

In addition to the results of the RT-PCR tests, the civic body in Mumbai also kept separate data for the rapid tests. In August, 89,326 results were reported by users. Recognizing the trend, local drugstore store owners are said to have said they buy boxes of thousands of kits that sell out in a day, and demand is peaking in southern and central Mumbai.

The city has recorded over 70,000 tests per day, the majority being RT-PCR and we are not too worried about home testing, we assume people will be responsible enough to report the results and self-isolate when they do. are positive, ”AMC Suresh Kakani told TOI. However, according to the Covid protocol, hospital admissions require a positive RT-PCR test report.

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