Bengal accuses NICED of giving defective corona test kits

Kolkata (IANS) The West Bengal government has accused the National Institute of Cholera and Enteric Diseases (NICED) of supplying 'apparently defective' test kits resulting in delays in detecting the coronavirus infection, and urged the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR)to look into the issue.

The NICED is an associate of the Central government's apex body for biomedical research ICMR. NICED also carries out testing of samples for coronavirus at its Regional Virus Research Diagnostic Lab here.

In a series of tweets, the state health department said the kits have led to a high number of repeat or confirmatory tests causing 'delays' and other attendant problems not only in Bengal, but also in other states.

"The testing kits supplied by the ICMR-NICED about two weeks ago have started to throw up a large number of 'inconclusive' results, necessitating a repeat/'confirmatory' test run, thereby causing a delay in the generation of the final test report," the state health department posted on its Twitter handle.

In another tweet, the department said there was no problem earlier when the testing kits were being received directly from National Institute of Virology, Pune.

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Recently, the supplies to government Labs in the state have been routed through ICMR-NICED, Kolkata.

"The apparently defective test kits supplied by the ICMR-NICED, Kolkata are resulting in a high number of repeat/confirmatory tests and causing delays and other attendant problems at a time when we are battling a pandemic. This is an issue that ICMR needs to look into immediately," it said.

"This problem has been faced not just by Government labs in the State but other testing labs in the country, based on their feedback shared in the relevant user groups, " the state health department said in another tweet.A

The state government said it came up with the clarification following a 'mischievous report' circulating in social media about the alleged delay in the time taken for testing swab samples in West Bengal.

IANS tried to contact NICED director Shanta Dutta, but she could not be reached over phone.

Dutta was recently involved in a verbal duel with the state government over the latter's allegation of a shortage of coronavirus test kits.

Dutta had not only denied any shortage, she also complained of receiving a low number of test samples from the state, and alleged that the number of tests in Bengal was 'too low' compared to its density and population as also in relation to other states.

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