On Tuesday, Union Health Minister Dr.Harsh Vardhan revealed that RT-PCR and antibody test kits would be produced in India by May. According to him, all processes were in an advanced stage, and production would formally commence after the Indian Council of Medical Research gave its approval. He added that indigenous production of these test kits would help in meeting the Central government's target of conducting one lakh COVID-19 tests per day by May 31. Speaking to the media earlier, the Union Health Minister stated that no fresh COVID-19 case had been reported in 80 districts in the last 7 days. Currently, there are 29,435 confirmed novel coronavirus cases in India out of which 6,869 persons have recovered while 934 casualties have been reported.
We will be able to produce RT-PCR and antibody test kits in India by May. All processes are in advanced stage and production will start after getting approval from ICMR. It will help us in meeting our target of 1 lakh test per day by May 31: Union Health Minister Dr Harsh Vardhan pic.twitter.com/sSK1zASVsB— ANI (@ANI) April 28, 2020
The ICMR on April 21 directed the state governments to not use the rapid antibody testing kits for the next two days. This development came after various states such as Rajasthan, West Bengal complained about the accuracy of the aforesaid kits. Addressing a press briefing, 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.
A day later, the ICMR wrote to the state governments specifying the protocol for conducting the rapid antibody tests. In a letter written to all the Chief Secretaries, the ICMR reiterated that rapid antibody tests are to be largely used as a tool for surveillance to ascertain the formation of antibodies in a person exposed to COVID-19. Moreover, it stressed that the RT-PCR test was the confirmatory test for the diagnosis of the novel coronavirus infection.
On April 27, the ICMR advised state governments to stop using the rapid testing kits procured from Guangzhou Wondfo Biotech and Zhuhai Livzon Diagnostics. After evaluating the kits of the aforesaid Chinese companies, the ICMR conceded that they showed wide variation in their sensitivity despite the early promise of good performance. Additionally, the ICMR cancelled the order of 15 lakh rapid anti-body test kits from China.