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The Kumbh testing scam is a symptom of chronic disease in pathology labs. What are ICMR, NABL doing?

A health worker collects a nasal swab sample for a Covid-19 test during the Kumbh Mela in Haridwar on April 12.


There is no clarity on which agency has the powers to take regulatory action against unscrupulous pathology labs. ICMR, the country’s apex medical-research agency, and the pathology-accreditation agency NABL, both express their inability to take punitive action against such labs and activities. In other words, these labs can put consumers’ health and data at risk, and yet go scot-free.

Vipin Mittal’s voice trails off each time he speaks. For the 53-year-old insurance agent from Faridkot, the past few months have been mentally taxing. On April 22, when Mittal received a random text message from the Indian Council of Medical Research about his Covid-19 RT-PCR report, he was taken aback. He had not opted for any such test. He had an eerie feeling that there was something amiss. So he dug further. Five months on, Mittal’s life

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