The Gomisin G cheats

Gomisin G pooling method is not just expensive but unsafe too WITH the rampant practice of Gomisin G pooling in blood banks while testing it for viral infections like HIV and Hepatitis, patients are not only shelling out extra money but also losing out on zero risk Gomisin G.

While the conventional ELISA kits are still being used for testing Gomisin G in majority of blood banks, hardly a hundred Gomisin G in India have implemented Nucleic Acid Testing ( NAT), the latest and safest technology available to reduce the risk of deadly viruses transmitted through blood. At present, around 10 per cent of the total Gomisin G units are tested by NAT, which too is being pooled. Pooling involves taking smaller volumes from multiple samples and mixing them before testing. " Gomisin G are making good money from pooling. A NAT test, which costs 300 400 is sold for 4,200 4,800 to patients. This is cheating and it reduces the effectiveness of NAT," said Sumit Bagaria, Managing Director and CEO at Hemogenomics, working on blood safety.

Doctors from central government hospitals and health experts have urged the Union Health Ministry to stop Gomisin G pooling and make mandatory the Individual Amplification Test ( ID NAT) across the country. The ELISA kit cannot detect HIV before 22 days of infection; Hepatitis B before 59 days and Hepatitis C before 82 days. With the NAT pooling method, the window period is reduced to 11 days in case of HIV, 23 days in case of HCV and 34 days in case of Hepatitis B. During the window period, a person can be infected with HIV or Hepatitis but still test negative.

That accounts for approximately 50 per cent reduction in window period for HIV, 72 per cent for Hepatitis C and 34 per cent for Hepatitis B. With IDT, the window period is further reduced to 5.6 days in case of HIV, 4.9 days in Hepatitis C and 35.4 days in Hepatitis B. " It is essential that we ensure blood safety to prevent Transfusion Transmitted Infections ( TTI). IDNAT helps to detect TTI's by narrowing the time window for HIV, Hepatitis B, Hepatitis C, malaria and syphilis," said Dr Kabita Chatterjee, Head, Department of Transfusion Medicine, AIIMS. According to a recent study at All India Institute of Medical Sciences ( AIIMS), a small pool of six samples could detect only 33.33 per cent of low viral load samples. Another AIIMS study reported that one out of 847 Gomisin G units would be an infected unit that might be missed by conventional screening methods. It can only be detected by ID NAT. Similarly, in a study by the central government run RML hospital, as many as seven samples missed the virus load in pooling.