After vaccines, COVID-19 testing kits expire in Karnataka

During the coronavirus pandemic, the Health Department had set up four depots for storage of COVID-19 testing kits and consumables

Published - March 14, 2023 10:58 pm IST - Bengaluru

Stocks of expired COVID-19 testing kits and other consumables piled up at the BMCRI depot in Bengaluru.

Stocks of expired COVID-19 testing kits and other consumables piled up at the BMCRI depot in Bengaluru. | Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

Stocks of expired COVID-19 testing kits and other consumables piled up at the BMCRI depot in Bengaluru.

Stocks of expired COVID-19 testing kits and other consumables piled up at the BMCRI depot in Bengaluru. | Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

After vaccines, COVID-19 RT-PCR testing kits and extraction kits have crossed their shelf life in the State. The expired stock along with other consumables has piled up in the Bangalore Medical College and Research Institute (BMCRI) depot affecting academic, diagnostic and research activities in the medical college.

While the total number of expired kits lying in the other three depots in the State — Mangaluru, Kalaburgi and Hubballi — is not available, as many as 13,63,280 expired testing kits have been stored in six rooms above the Viral Research and Diagnostic Laboratory (VRDL) in BMCRI. During the pandemic, the Health Department had set up four depots for storage of COVID-19 testing kits and consumables.

The testing kits and consumables stored are not getting exhausted as the laboratories linked to the VRDL in BMCRI have not been indenting these items in the recent past. After the third wave subsided, there is hardly any demand for COVID testing.

Letter to Commissioner

Facing acute shortage of space for carrying out its primary objectives of academic, diagnostic and research activities due to the storage of RT-PCR and extraction kits apart from consumables for COVID-19 testing, the Microbiology Department has written to the State Health Commissioner Randeep D. requesting that the stock be relocated from BMCRI. However, despite repeated reminders the stock is yet to be relocated.

“Our department has supported the State government and health authorities during the pandemic by acting as a major site for diagnostics, research, training and mentoring apart from being a depot for storage of kits and consumables. The department can no longer afford to carry-on with this task of being a depot due lack of space, HR and scheduled quality management system assessments.  Moreover, offline classes for UG, PG courses of medical and dental streams along with Allied Health Sciences have also resumed. Storage boxes of expired kits have taken up a lot of space as they have not been removed from the depot citing absence of any protocol or directive on the disposal of expired kits,” BMCRI sources said.

“Apart from the Health Commissioner, we have sent repeated mails in this regard to the Director of Medical Education, State Mission Director, National Health Mission and Karnataka State Medical Supplies Corporation Limited (KSMSCL),” sources said.

Revalidation

Mr. Randeep said he had instructed the officials concerned to shift the stocks from BMCRI at the earliest. “We are aware of the space constraints in the teaching hospital and will ensure that the academic and research activities are not affected,” he said. He said the possibility of revalidating the testing kits is also being explored.

Expired COVID-19 testing kits stored in BMCRI depot

GB Pure Manual RNA extraction (Expiry date: July 2022): 3,28,000 

Genes2Me Automated flex (Expiry date: May 2022): 1,06,640   

Genes2Me Automated Genetix (Expiry date: May 2022) : 1,42,640  

Himedia Automated Flex (Expiry date: January 2023): 5,60,000 

GB Automated Genetix (Expiry date December 2022): 2,26,000

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