2000 NIV kits for Calcutta hospitals after ‘fault cry’
The Centre-run National Institute of Cholera and Enteric Diseases (NICED) on Tuesday sent 2,000 kits assembled at the National Institute of Virology (NIV), Pune, each to SSKM Hospital and the School of Tropical Medicine.
The move follows the health department's allegation that results were getting delayed because of faulty NICED kits.
The swab test kits sent on Tuesday are the ones assembled at NIV and there have been no complaints regarding them, a NICED official said. The North Bengal Medical College and Hospital, too, will get 2,000 kits, the official said.
“We said three days ago that NIV kits had no problem. But the ones from NICED gave inconclusive results. NICED, too, has admitted to problems with the new batch of kits,” chief secretary Rajiva Sinha said on Tuesday. “We hope the Union government will give us kits without any problem.”
Abhishek Banerjee, Trinamul youth wing chief and Diamond Harbour MP, on Tuesday linked the matter of faulty kits and the arrival of central teams in Calcutta in a tweet. “You cripple GoWB with faulty kits from ICMR & then send IMCTs to monitor GoWB's performance while keeping the State Govt in
dark. In the name of combating the COVID-19 crisis, you're playing with the lives of Bengalis while your leaders use skewed testing nos for fake propaganda,” he said in the tweet.
The state health department had alleged through a series of tweets on Sunday that “testing kits supplied by ICMR-NICED about two weeks ago” started “to throw up a large number of inconclusive’ results, necessitating a repeat/‘confirmatory’ test run, thereby causing a delay in the generation of the final test report”.
The allegations were about swab test kits and not rapid antibody-based blood tests.
The department had said in the tweets that “there was no problem earlier when the testing kits were being received directly from the National Institute of Virology, Pune”. Problems arose in the recently supplied kits “to government labs in West Bengal” that “have been routed through ICMR-NICED, Kolkata”.
Shanta Dutta, the director of NICED, said on Tuesday: “This is not a time for blame game. Our director-general (of the Indian Council of Medical Research) asked us to give kits assembled at NIV Pune to state government labs. We have sent 2,000 kits each to SSKM and STM. We will send 2,000 kits to the North Bengal Medical College and Hospital. ICMR will send us 10,000 more such kits and we will distribute them to state laboratories again.”
Three types of swab test kits had been supplied to state laboratories by NICED, of which the third lot manufactured in China had complaints, the health department had alleged.
The kits may have lost their activity because of problems in storage temperature, an ICMR official said. It could have happened at the testing laboratories or during transport.
“The RT-PCR kits used for swab tests need to be kept below 20 degrees Celsius. If the temperature is higher, then the test results are not proper,” the official said.