COVID-19: ICMR allows antigen tests in all states, each kit costs ₹450, result in 30 minutes
The ICMR now recommended rapid antigen tests in all containment zones and a hospitals with RT-PCR test
In a bid to increase COVID-19 testing in the country, Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) today allowed all the states to start using rapid antigen testing. Known as the Standard Q COVID-19 Ag kit, antigen detection test does not require any specialised machine. It can show results within 30 minutes and "can be interpreted with a naked eye". The antigen testing is a promising tool for quick diagnosis of coronavirus infection in field settings, the ICMR said.
The antigen test kit has been developed by a South Korean biotechnology firm SD Biosensor. Each kit will cost ₹450. "The antigen test has been found to have a very high specificity with moderate sensitivity," the medical body said. ICMR and the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) have independently evaluated the efficiency of antigen testing kit in detecting coronavirus infection.
Delhi has already used rapid antigen test kits last week to detect coronavirus cases in the containment areas. The ICMR advised to use antigen kits along with the gold standard RT-PCR test. Suspected individuals who test negative for COVID-19 by rapid antigen test should be tested by RT-PCR to rule out the infection. While the positive test results should be considered as true positive and does not need reconfirmation by RT-PCR test, said the apex body.
The ICMR has now recommended using rapid antigen tests in all containment zones and hospitals. According to the ICMR, this test should be conducted in the following settings:
1) All containment zones identified by the state governments
2) All central and state government medical colleges and government hospitals
3) All private hospitals approved by National Accreditation Board for Hospitals & Healthcare (NABH).
4) All private labs accredited by National Accreditation Board for Laboratories (NABL) and approved by ICMR as COVID-19 testing labs.
Testing kits should be used for all symptomatic people with influenza like illness in containment zones or hotspots, asymptomatic direct and high-risk contacts with co-morbidities of confirmed cases, the ICMR mentioned.
In hospitals, the kits are to be used for all symptomatic Influenza Like Illness (ILI) patients, asymptomatic patients who are hospitalized or seeking hospitalization for chemotherapy and transplants or those who are over 65 years with co-morbidities.
All hospitals, labs, state governments intending to perform the antigen test need to register with ICMR to obtain the login credentials for data entry, the medical body said today. All data of testing needs to be entered into the ICMR portal on a real time basis. The portal has been modified to include a component on antigen testing, ICMR suggested.
The ICMR also urged all the state governments, public and private institutions to take required steps to scale up testing for coronavirus patients. "Since test, track and treat is the only way to prevent spread of infection and save lives, it is imperative that testing should be made widely available to all symptomatic individuals in every part of the country and contact tracing mechanisms for containment of infection are further strengthened," it added.