COVID-19 test licenses must for private labs: ICMR to Delhi High Court

ICMR has informed the Delhi High Court that the certification by the National Accreditation Board of Testing and Calibration Laboratories (NABL) is a must for the enrollment of private labs for the testing of COVID-19.

Created On: Sep 7, 2021 15:38 IST
COVID testing in private labs
COVID testing in private labs

The Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) informed the Delhi High Court that the certification by the National Accreditation Board of Testing and Calibration Laboratories (NABL) is a must for the enrollment of private labs for the testing of Coronavirus.

NABL will certify the readiness of the labs in order to undertake the molecular testing of SARS-CoV-2 before they are permitted by the research body for COVID testing.

While commenting on the online health service aggregators, the ICMR clarified that the monitory of their activities does not come under its purview.

The top medical court had made the submission in an affidavit which was filed in response to a plea seeking the contempt action against the authorities for not following the High Court’s earlier direction of taking action against the online health service aggregators which have been operating illegally and are collecting samples for COVID tests.

ICMR on private labs for COVID-19 testing:

The Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) said in an affidavit that as of August 16, 2021, the top medical body has given approval to 134 (35 government and 99 private) labs in Delhi for RT-PCR, CBNAAT, TrueNat, and other M-NAT testing platforms. The information has also been available on its website.

It further informed that the medical body has also laid down the SOPs and standard guidance to set up the COVID-19 testing labs. 14 mentor institutes have also been set up in the country to guide the labs on implementing these SOPs and setting up testing labs. ICMR further mentioned that for Delhi, the mentor institute is AIIMS.

Issue of online health services operating illegally: What do we know?

The contempt plea by Dr. Rohit Jain had urged the Delhi High Court to allow the contempt plea and restrain the illegal online health service aggregators, which have not been authorized for collecting the diagnostic samples for COVID tests, from further committing the contempt of court passed by the court in 2020.

On April 8, 2020, the Supreme Court had directed that the COVID-19 tests must only be carried out in NABL-accredited labs or any other agencies that are approved by the ICMR or WHO.

On August 6, 2020, A division bench of the High Court directed the AAP government in Delhi to take action in accordance with the law against the online health service aggregators, who have been operating illegally without any form of registration.

The direction by High Court on August 6 had come after disposing of a PIL which was seeking a ban on the allegedly illegal online health service aggregators from collecting the diagnostic samples for testing of COVID infection.

Petition to restrain online health services collecting COVID samples:

The petition has claimed that the brisk business of the online aggregators collecting and testing the COVID-19 samples has been on the rise in the country.

It further claims that this illegal sample collection by the online health services has to lead to the false-negative COVID-19 results and demands the urgent need to restrain them from collecting the samples.

The plea also says that several online health service aggregators have been advertising freely by offering attractive packages for body check-ups including the test of COVID-19.

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