Fingers raised at ‘discrepancies’ in private lab COVID tests

TPR will be low if numbers of all tests were uploaded: inspection team

Health department officials have claimed that the high Test Positivity Rate (TPR) for coronavirus in the State is because of discrepancies in tests conducted by private labs and data submitted by them. TPR is the percentage of samples tested positive for the virus.

No precise data

However, the officials did not provide a precise data on the number of samples tested at government and private labs, which helps determine whether private labs have contributed to this high TPR.

From June 16-26, the daily TPR ranged between 17-30%. The highest of 29.24% was recorded on June 23. This means 29.24% of samples put to test were positive. The cumulative positivity rate of 16.39% was recorded on Friday.

A high TPR means more samples are testing positive, which indicates high prevalence of COVID-19. This high rate and low tests per million population is being closely monitored by Union government officials, who have red-flagged high prevalence.

Permission to pvt labs

The State government granted permission to private laboratories to conduct tests for the virus on June 15. It was on the same day that ‘50,000 tests in 10 days’ was initiated. The number of tests done on a single day and cumulative tests were published in medical bulletins after the tests were ramped up. The TPR was calculated based on that data.

Citing discrepancies, four teams comprising microbiologists and senior officials, on Thursday, inspected 16 private labs, where tests were being conducted. In their report, published in the medical bulletin issued on Friday, they pointed out several discrepancies in the data (samples tested, positives detected) submitted to the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR), State government portal and lab records.

It was claimed that according to the data submitted by all private labs in the State portal, 6,733 samples were tested and 2,836 were positive. As per lab records, 12,700 tests were conducted and 3,571 samples were positive.

The inspection team claimed that the TPR would be low if number of all tests was uploaded. However, the dates on which the tests were conducted at private labs was not mentioned.

To validate the claim, the health department should publish the number of tests at private labs in the medical bulletin. If it is low, the claim does not hold validity.

“Besides, the Health department officials should inform the positivity rate in government and private labs. In any case, the daily testing capacity (in Telangana) of 4,000 per day is low. When more cases are being detected, more tests have to be performed so that people with coronavirus are not left undetected. Government labs too have to be inspected and report on it should be published,” said a health data researcher who chose to remain anonymous. Senior health officials did not respond to calls or messages.

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Printable version | Jul 5, 2020 10:57:34 PM |

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