ICMR develops test kit to detect Covid antibodies
The ICMR’s apex virology laboratory- National Institute of Virology-Pune (NIV) has both developed and validated the test to detect IgG antibody.
The Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) has developed ‘Covid Kavach ELISA’, a test kit for detection of coronavirus disease (Covid-19) antibodies, Union health minister Harsh Vardhan announced on Sunday.
The ICMR’s apex virology laboratory- National Institute of Virology-Pune (NIV) has both developed and validated the test to detect IgG antibody. Immunoglobulin G (IgG) is the most common antibody in blood and other body fluids that immune system makes to protects against bacterial and viral infections and allergens.
However, IgG can take time to form after an infection, and can be useful in detecting a past infection.
“…there is an augmented demand of various types of diagnostic tests by countries all across the globe. Most of the diagnostic material for Covid-19 is imported into India from other countries. Therefore, Indian scientists are tirelessly engaged in developing indigenous diagnostics for Sars-CoV-2, the causative agent of Covid-19…” said Harsh Vardhan in a statement.
“NIV’s competent scientific team successfully isolated the Sars-CoV-2 virus from laboratory confirmed patients in India. This in turn has paved the way for development of indigenous diagnostics for Sars-CoV-2,” he added.
While real-time polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) is the frontline test for clinical diagnosis of Sars-CoV-2, robust antibody tests are critical for surveillance to understand the proportion of population exposed to infection, say experts.
“We currently have the requisite technology to develop good quality antibody based tests in weeks. These tests are a good tool for surveillance purposes,” said Dr Shobha Broor, former head, department of microbiology, All India Institute of Medical Sciences, Delhi.
The test was validated at two sites in Mumbai and has been found to have high sensitivity and specificity.
“…the test will have the advantage of testing 90 samples together in a single run of 2.5 hours. Moreover, ELISA based testing is easily possible even at district level as the ELISA kit has inactivated virus. There are also minimal bio-safety and bio-security requirements as compared to the real-time RT-PCR test. The test has an advantage of having much higher sensitivity and specificity as compared to the several rapid test kits which have recently flooded the Indian market,” said health ministry in a statement.
The ICMR has partnered with Zydus Cadila for mass scale production of these test kits. The research body has already transferred the technology for mass scale production to the company.