Biocon Chief condemns ICMR for not permitting Asymptomatic Testing
Bengaluru: Biotechnology industry veteran Kiran Mazumdar-Shaw on Friday criticised the Indian Council of Medical Research for "not permitting" asymptomatic testing in large numbers, asserting that individuals have a right to know whether they are positive or negative for COVID-19.
The Executive Chairperson of Bengaluru-headquartered biotech major, Biocon Ltd, said given the size of the country, the rising number of cases is expected when the economy is opened up after COVID-19-induced lockdown.
Her concern is ICMR is not permitting asymptomatic testing in large numbers, she said.
Businesses have now opened up their offices and plants and want to make sure that employees returning to their campuses are negative for the novel coronavirus, according to her.
"...some of them might be positive, some of them might be carriers, some of them might be supercarriers. How do I know? Why are they (ICMR) preventing us from testing? I dont understand. Everywhere in the world, they are allowing testing," Mazumdar-Shaw told PTI.
"Governments are acting as if its a crime to test. They are almost making it like that. Is it crime to test? It's not because, as an individual, I would like to know whether I am positive or negative even if I am asymptomatic."
On the one hand, the government did not mind allowing people who fly to be tested, but was not permitting people coming to work to undergo the examination, she said.
Mazumdar-Shaw also suggested triaging COVID-19 cases into mild, moderate and severe and manage hospital beds properly.
If patients have mild symptoms, they should not overwhelm hospitals and should be given treatment in quarantine centres where their health can be monitored.
Only people with (complaints of) breathlessness and oxygen needs should go to hospitals, she said.
You have to test more. Testing has to be freed up. Asymptomatic testing has to be freed up. And hospitals have to manage patients in a triage way so that they don't get overwhelmed, Mazumdar-Shaw said.
"You cant say that every positive case has to land up in hospitals."
She also stressed the need for testing people based on their risk profile.
"A person's risk profile map can be easily worked out by knowing how often the individual uses public transport, the frequency of his travel for work, number of people at work place and if he or she is diabetic and has hypertension, among other factors."
"Public workers, particularly bus drivers and conductors and delivery service personnel, should be tested as they come in touch with people so much," Mazumdar-Shaw added.