Thursday, August 27, 2009

Delhi pvt labs begin swine flu tests

NEW DELHI:  Private labs opened their doors to swine flu testing on Thursday, giving Delhiites an alternative to government-run screening centres for
detecting the disease. Three private labs have begun testing for the flu while another is expected to launch the facility from Friday.
The city government on Thursday gave permission to the fourth private lab - Super Religare Laboratories (SRL) - to test for H1N1 influenza, triggering a price war of sorts. SRL has priced the test at half of what the other three approved labs are charging.
The state health department is working out a mechanism for reporting positive H1N1 cases discovered by these labs. Meanwhile, these private centres have started collecting samples for testing. One lab, Auroprobe, began on Wednesday itself when it collected four samples. On Thursday, Auroprobe collected close to 20 samples, Dang's lab had eight and SRL got 4-5 samples. Dr Lal's pathlab will start from Friday. All four labs are promising results within 48 hours.
The three labs approved for testing on Tuesday had unanimously decided to charge Rs 9,000 flat for the test. But SRL announced that it would do the same test for Rs 4,500. ``It is a national emergency and we can't be fighting over the cost of the test. The test is expensive, as the reagents, testing kits and other material are imported and we are not exempted from custom duty. It is costing us close to Rs 8,000 or more,'' said Dr Navin Dang, director, Dr Dang's Lab.
According to sources in AIIMS, it costs the government around Rs 4,000-Rs 5,000 for each test. ``The custom duty on reagents, enzymes, testing kits etc used by us is less as compared to what private labs have to pay. The cost is high as the material used in testing is very expensive. The cost of the test is also high because we have to test for at least four factors - influenza A, swine A, swine H1 and RnT,'' said a senior doctor at AIIMS.
On being asked about the drastic difference in pricing, Dr Sanjeev Choudhry, CEO, SRL, said, ``Profit margins in these tests are very low. Our price is low as we are buying the reagents and kits in large quantities. Our testing capacity is also more and there are several other factors that affect the cost of any test.'' Choudhry said SRL would soon press 10 mobile vans into service for collecting samples.
The other three labs say that they are not likely to bring down the cost of the test any further. ``When it is costing the government close to Rs 5,000, how can it cost the private sector less? We have worked out the price after much debate and can't bring it down further,'' said Dr Arvind Lal, chairman and managing director, Dr Lal's Pathlabs.
Said Dr Nimrat Bawa, director, Auroprobe lab, which is offering home collection service, ``Our people have to wear personal protection equipment while taking the sample. If we collect samples from home, the PPE has to be discarded after taking one sample. There is no way that we can bring down the cost.''
The state health department, meanwhile, is concerned about the reporting mechanism of positive cases found by these labs. On Thursday, a 80-year-old woman who was admitted at Max hospital in Saket, tested positive for H1N1 influenza. Her sample was tested at Auroprobe lab. She was shifted to RML hospital late at night. The state health department is working out a way to ensure that positive cases from these labs are sent to government hospitals for treatment.
``We have to address this problem. At present, private hospitals are not allowed to keep any swine flu patient. Now that these labs will be testing samples, we will ask them to advice the patient to go to a government hospital. It is the government hospital doctor who will decide whether the patient needs hospital admission or can stay in home quarantine,'' said Kiran Walia, Delhi's health minister.
The health department also plans to increase the strength of its tracking teams. ``We have asked these private labs to report positive cases to us and our teams will then visit patient. We are thinking of increasing the strength of our tracking team. It is clear that private hospital doctors can't treat swine flu patients,'' said Walia.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

WHO Says Confirmed H1N1 Deaths Worldwide Reach 1,799

According to the latest WHO report out Wednesday, the number of confirmed H1N1 (swine) flu deaths since its emergence in April has reached 1,799 - a jump from 1,462 deaths since the agency's last update, Agence France-Presse/the Australian reports. The WHO report also notes Ghana, Tuvalu and Zambia became the latest countries to confirm H1N1 cases for the first time, bringing the total number of countries with H1N1 to over 170 (8/20).
Also on Wednesday, the total number of deaths from H1N1 in Latin America rose above 1,300 - "more than 70 percent of the world's fatatlities" - after the country governments reported updates, the AFP reports in a separate story. "With vaccines against swine flu still more than a month away from being available -- and wealthy countries snapping up all available pre-orders from the big drug companies -- Latin American nations are looking at ignoring patents to produce their own," the news service writes, adding, Argentine President Cristina Kirchner on Tuesday appealed for pharmaceutical companies to "drop patent protection for their vaccines." "Given the laboratories' confession that they can't produce enough A(H1N1) flu vaccine for the whole world, the economic rights should be suspended to protect the health of mankind," Kirchner said (8/19).

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Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Swine flu cases cross 3,000 mark

New Delhi: SwineFlu cases in the country on Tuesday crossed the 3,000-mark with 186 more people, including 41 in the national capital, testing positive for the disease.

With the fresh cases, the total number of cases rose to 3,095.

While Delhi reported 41 cases, Maharashtra had 34 fresh cases followed by Karnataka (29), Gujarat (23), Kerala (16), Tamil Nadu (12), Uttar Pradesh (9), West Bengal (4), Assam (2), Chandigarh (1); Haryana (1), Chhattisgarh (1) and Madhya Pradesh (1).

Of the 186 new cases reported during the day, nine have a travel history of visits abroad while the rest are indigenous cases.

Uttar Pradesh had reported 49 new Lab confirmed cases on August 24 from samples collected from 8-17 August 2009.

Patients-care: 37 positive cases of swine flu reported in Delhi today

Patients-care: 37 positive cases of swine flu reported in Delhi today

37 positive cases of swine flu reported in Delhi today

New Delhi, Aug 24 With 37 laboratory confirmed cases of swine flu reported in the city today, the number of infected people here has reached 478, which includes two deaths and one in critical condition."The NICD today confirmed 37 cases positive for swine flu virus. They were immediately treated in designated government hospitals after they reported with symptoms. The total number of cases tested positive for H1N1 virus till now is 478," Delhi health minister," Kiran Walia said."Of these, 423 people have been treated and discharged.Fifty-five cases are getting treatment at hospitals or they are being treated under home quarantine."Meanwhile, the condition of the 44-year-old woman admitted to the Ram Manohar Lohia Hospital on August 21 continue to remain critical.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Swine Flu

The swine influenza A (H1N1) virus that has infected humans in the U.S. and Mexico is a novel influenza A virus that has not previously been identified in North America. This virus is resistant to the antiviral medications amantadine (Symmetrel) and rimantadine (Flumadine), but is sensitive to oseltamivir (Tamiflu) and zanamivir (Relenza). Investigations of these cases suggest that on-going human-to-human swine influenza A (H1N1) virus is occurring.

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