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Covid testing dips as home testing rises, cases plateaue: Dr Lal PathLabs

Om Manchanda, MD, Dr Lal PathLabs, on Wednesday, said that as the number of COVID cases have fallen in the last 10 days, there’s been a decline in COVID testing as well that’s been seen since last week . He, however, cautioned that positivity remains on the higher side. He believes that the fall in testing numbers could be due to higher at-home testing, however there’s no way to verify it.

“I think it started rising in the last week of December, then it went up and I am seeing since last week, the trend has started falling, though the positivity is still on higher side. If you compare last 10 days trend, the number of cases that are coming now are definitely on a declining side. So I think one can safely assume that probably it is falling, “he said.

According to Manchanda, this time around the spike in COVID-19 cases has been short and mild. He added that different cities are following a different COVID curve. He explained that while cities like Delhi and Mumbai are seeing a declining trend in testing, there’s been a spike in testing in the southern cities. Manchanda highlighted that this time around, during the third wave of COVID, only RT-PCR tests saw a spike and not COVID allied tests as was the case during the COVID second wave.

“I think in Delhi and Mumbai, we are clearly seeing a falling trend. This time at-home testing is very high. But probably we don’t have a way to monitor that, at least in our case. This time, whatever little spike happened, that happened mostly on RT PCR, it really didn’t happen on COVID allied tests,” he mentioned.

“This time, I find that different cities are following a different curve while one sees a declining trend in Mumbai and in Delhi, though we are not very strong in south, one sees that in some southern cities, there was a bit of a spike last week. This time, the spike has been very short and also has been a little milder than what it was in wave two,” he explained.

Manchanda affirmed that the company’s focus continues to be on non-COVID cases. He added that the company will have to delve deeper into its 2-year compounded annual growth rate (CAGR) on non-COVID testing. Additionally, Manchanda mentioned that the company is focused on volume growth. He believes there’s a need to be efficient and compete on the pricing front.

He said, “Our focus will continue to remain on non-COVID testing. However, non-COVID testing has been fluctuating quarter on quarter (QoQ. We are right now in the eighth quarter post pandemic. My sense is the deeper analysis would be post this quarter when we know two years CAGR on non-COVID.”

“We are focused on volume growth. So we are trying our level best to improve efficiencies so that we are able to maintain our margins and still remain competitive on pricing. I am very clear in my mind that we will have to be efficient and compete on pricing,” Manchanda said.

On technology, he believes that it is entering the diagnostic space as well. He expects a hybrid model of digital and offline testing model in the diagnostics space, going ahead.

“One must realize in healthcare, the core of proposition is the quality. So, you need to trust the brand. Tech is definitely invading healthcare as well and I don’t think it’s only going to be digital or only going to be the offline model. I think it’s going to be omnichannel strategy that one will have to follow,” he said. CNBCTV18

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