Assuring the nation of India's testing capacity, the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR)'s Dr. Gangakhedkar, on Thursday, revealed that 5 lakh rapid testing (anti-body) kits were received by India from two companies -Livzon and Wondfo. He added that the kits had over 80% sensitivity and the kits will be used for surveillance and not for early diagnosis. Currently, India's Coronavirus tally is at 12380 cases and 414 deaths.
ICMR revealed that two types of rapid tests or antibody tests were received, explaining how symptoms will be visible only after 8 days. He said, "If I am infected with the virus, within 8 days I may show symptoms. To counter the virus, my body will produce antibodies. When we detect the IGM type of antibodies (via tests), we come to know that the infection is recent. When IGG antibodies are detected, we can conclude that the affected person's health is bettering."
He added, "If IGM is absent and only IGG is present. Hence, the rapid antibody tests we are using are not for early diagnosis, only for surveillance. This test will help us know that if the virus is rising in a particular hotspot or reducing. If one is tested positive in an anti-body test, it does not mean one is immune to the virus (Coronavirus). Research is needed to be done to evaluate the quality of the antibody to confirm immunization."
Talking out samples tested till date, he said, "2,90,401 people have been tested till date, of which 30,043 (26,331 tests done at ICMR's 176 labs & 3,712 tests at 78 private labs) were tested yesterday. Comparing India's testing ratio per positive case, he said, " We are doing 24 tests to get 1 person positive. That means 23 tests are resulting in negative. Japan tests 11.7 people to get 1 positive patient, while In Italy, it is 6.7. people, USA-5.3 and UK- 3.4." He also revealed that India had a rapid test kits stock for up to 8 weeks from now.
On April 9, the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) revised its testing strategy. The new strategy which has been released by the ICMR also includes testing in 'hotspots/cluster' for all symptomatic cases - within 7 days (rRT- PCR method) and after 7 days (antibody test). The ICMR previously only allowed testing of all people with symptoms with travel history, contact history, SARI patients and asymptomatic people with high-risk contacts.
Currently, testing for Coronavirus is done in 219 labs throughout the nation - 176 Govt & 78 Pvt. On March 21, the Centre notified the guidelines laid down by the ICMR for COVID-19 testing in private laboratories in the country. It has been stressed that private labs can charge only Rs.1,500 for the screening of suspect cases and Rs.3000 for the confirmation test. While ICMR has encouraged private labs to go for free or subsidized testing, government labs are testing for free. Moreover, the Supreme Court instructed Pvt labs to conduct free COVID-19 testing for patients covered by the AYUSHMAN Bharat scheme.