Mazumdar-Shaw said testing by private labs will plummet, since they are conducting the tests at an upfront cost.
Testing of COVID-19 by private laboratories will plummet if it is made free as per the Supreme Court's April 8 order, said Biocon Chairperson Kiran Mazumdar Shaw in an interview to CNBC-TV18.
She said making tests free is not practical as they can't wait for government reimbursements and appealed to the SC to reconsider the decision.
It could affect the ramp-up in testing, as required, she noted, adding, private labs could have done 10 percent of the testing for free.
The price of each test has currently been capped at Rs 4,500.
Frequently Asked Questions
A vaccine works by mimicking a natural infection. A vaccine not only induces immune response to protect people from any future COVID-19 infection, but also helps quickly build herd immunity to put an end to the pandemic. Herd immunity occurs when a sufficient percentage of a population becomes immune to a disease, making the spread of disease from person to person unlikely. The good news is that SARS-CoV-2 virus has been fairly stable, which increases the viability of a vaccine.
There are broadly four types of vaccine — one, a vaccine based on the whole virus (this could be either inactivated, or an attenuated [weakened] virus vaccine); two, a non-replicating viral vector vaccine that uses a benign virus as vector that carries the antigen of SARS-CoV; three, nucleic-acid vaccines that have genetic material like DNA and RNA of antigens like spike protein given to a person, helping human cells decode genetic material and produce the vaccine; and four, protein subunit vaccine wherein the recombinant proteins of SARS-COV-2 along with an adjuvant (booster) is given as a vaccine.
Vaccine development is a long, complex process. Unlike drugs that are given to people with a diseased, vaccines are given to healthy people and also vulnerable sections such as children, pregnant women and the elderly. So rigorous tests are compulsory. History says that the fastest time it took to develop a vaccine is five years, but it usually takes double or sometimes triple that time.
"They (private labs) are not large organisations. They cannot run their businesses by giving credit to the government since the reimbursements will take time," she said.
On April 8, the Supreme Court had said both state-run and private laboratories should make COVID-19 testing free. The SC bench, consisting of Ashok Bhushan and S Ravindra Bhat, had said the issue of reimbursement for expenses incurredFollow our full coverage here.