The Supreme Court (SC), on November 24, issued notices to the Centre through the Cabinet Secretary and the Health Secretary to cap prices of RT-PCR tests for COVID-19.
The notice was sent due to a petition filed by advocate Ajay Agrawal, who sought a cap of Rs 400 on test prices. Agrawal told the court that such tests do not cost more than Rs 200, but labs are “charging exorbitant rates for them” and that “vested interests are profiteering off the misery of people,” The Economic Times reported.
A three-judge bench led by Chief Justice of India SA Bobde issued the notices which are returnable in two weeks, it said.
Prices of RT-PCR tests across states and union territories in India currently range between Rs 900 to Rs 2,800, which gives a profit margin of 1,400 percent in Andhra Pradesh and 1,200 percent in Delhi, Agrawal alleged.
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.
India's COVID-19 caseload went past 92 lakh with 44,376 new cases reported in a day, while the number of recoveries surged to 86.42 lakh, the health ministry said on November 25. The number of total coronavirus cases rose to 9,222,216 in the country, while the death toll due to the disease climbed to 134,699 with 481 new fatalities, the ministry's data updated at 8 am showed.
The active caseload shot up to 444,746, an increase of 6,079 cases from Tuesday, even though it remained below five lakh for the 15th consecutive day, accounting for 4.82 per cent of the total cases, the data stated.
Meanwhile, during his meeting with chief ministers and representatives of various states to review India’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic on November 24, Prime Minister Narendra Modi made a number of observations and put out more information about the country’s vaccination strategy.Follow our full COVID-19 coverage here