Dr. Muronda was speaking during a press conference attended by Pindula News where he was addressing allegations that a Lancet employee offered a customer fake negative COVID-19 test results.
Said Dr. Muronda:
The latest challenge that the public has had is the reports that some of the results have been challenged by the clients. Most of the clients that have issues with the results are the clients that have planned to travel.That’s invariably the situation.
Somebody has planned to travel. They may not have symptoms or have mild symptoms, then they are faced with a positive result. And obviously that creates a huge problem if they have a meeting in Joburg or wherever.
The impact of those changes, we have seen that clients find that very difficult to deal with. There are requests sometimes that we do something about it.
This is the challenge – that people prepare for their journeys but they don’t know their COVID status. And when the COVID status is given to them, they feel that somehow maybe the laboratory is to blame.
We process hundreds and hundreds of clients on a daily basis. These complaints do not amount to more than 4 or 5 a day.
Dr. Muronda told Pindula that the process is such that even if a rogue employee would want to change a result – it is not possible:
“The operating instruction is that we don’t change results and we don’t retest because if you’re positive you’re positive and you really need to go into isolation.
Ofcourse clients will ask our staff to change the result, but staff cannot change the result – the system will not allow them to do that even if they wanted to.”
He also said that while every system may have faults that result in false positives, this is very rare with PCR tests especially if the machinery is updated to pick up new variants of the COVID-19 virus.
Dr. Muronda said that Lancet is handling about two-thirds of all the COVID-19 tests carried out in Zimbabwe, making it by far the largest provider of these services.
Lancet sources its COVID-19 test material from a US-based biotech company called Biomeme.
Zimbabwe has seen a surge in new COVID-19 cases this January.