Just a day after the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) directed states to halt the testing through rapid antibody kits, the apex medical organisation in the country has forwarded a protocol for the use of these kits. It has also communicated to the states that antibody rapid tests are largely to be used as a tool of surveillance and cannot replace the RT-PCR tests to diagnose COVID-19 cases. Earlier, several states had complained of faulty rapid antibody testing kits provided by the ICMCR which had 'objectionable' accuracy.
The ICMR has also reiterated that the utility of these kits is evolving and that the test results are also dependent on field conditions. The medical council has assured assistance to collect data from several states and shall keep advising the states on a regular basis.
The ICMR on Tuesday had directed the state governments to not use the rapid testing kits for the next two days. This development comes after various states complained about the accuracy of the aforesaid kits. Addressing a press briefing on Tuesday, Dr.Raman Gangakhedkar- the head of Epidemiology and Communicable Diseases at ICMR conceded that there was a significant variation in the positive RT-PCR samples.
At the same time, he observed that tests might be in a crude form as only three and a half months had passed since the outbreak of the novel coronavirus pandemic. Additionally, Dr.Gangakhedkar announced that the ICMR would try to validate the kits in the field instead of laboratories in the coming two days and issue a detailed advisory subsequently.
Incidentally, two Chinese companies have also come under the ICMR scanner for allegedly providing faulty rapid antibody testing kits. It is believed that these companies provided over 7 million kits which were brought into the country through sorties from Air India and other commercial jetliners amid the lockdown.
The COVID Crisis
With 1383 new cases and 50 deaths reported in the last 24 hours, India's total number of positive COVID-19 cases stands at 19,984, said the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare on Wednesday. The total number of cases include 15,474 active cases and 640 deaths. As many as 3,869 people have been recovered so far while one has migrated.