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Wednesday 8 July 2020

Rapid antibody test kits not to be used to check COVID

The problem was not limited to their manufacturing in an unscrupulous China; the very principle on which rapid testing is based is flawed

The Union Group of Ministers met at the Ministry of Health on Saturday and put their seal of approval on the recommendation of the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) to not use the made-in-China rapid antibody test kits anymore for detecting the coronavirus disease (COVID). All ministers present acknowledged that the steps taken by the government to keep COVID-19 in check were showing positive results.

Medical examinations using the rapid test kit stand deferred until further notice.

Health Minister Dr Harsh Vardhan, Minister of State for Health Ashwini Kumar Choubey, External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar, Civil Aviation Minister Hardeep Singh Puri and other officials attended the meeting.

Sources said the ministers agreed in the meeting that the spread of COVID-19 was under control in the country and the steps taken by the government were showing positive results. This was another reason besides the unreliability of the testing apparatus and method for postponing tests with the rapid approach.

Sources said that the government believes the country currently has the capacity to test more than 1.5 million suspects. Additionally, many Indian companies were in the process of developing test kits.

More than 1.25 lakh volunteers are ready to assist in the fight against COVID-19.

Why ICMR had stopped rapid testing for 2 days

The ICMR had said on 21 April that while 4,49,810 tests of coronavirus had been done that far, in view of the complaint from Rajasthan, it had asked the state not to use the rapid test kits for two days.

These rapid antibody-testing kits had come from two Chinese companies Lieozon and Wanflo. India strangely continues to be friendly to China amid worldwide condemnation of the communist state’s fishy behaviour in allegedly spreading the contagious disease across the globe.

Following complaints from the states, the ICMR had recommended a ban on rapid tests across the country for two days. India was forced to take this decision at a time when preparations were on to increase the testing rate. Shoddy kits from China were gutted amidst preparations for mass testing in hotspots.

But the problem is not limited to their manufacturing in an unscrupulous China. The very principle on which rapid testing is based is flawed. The problem with this approach is that the result is inconclusive. According to Lung Surgeon Arvind Kumar at Sir Gangaram Hospital in Delhi, if a person is infected but there is no response to antibodies in his body, the results in the rapid test will be negative.

According to data released by the Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, 1,429 new cases have been reported in the last 24 hours and 57 people have died. The total number of COVID-positive cases in the country has risen to 24,506, out of which 18,668 are active cases, 5,063 people have recovered or have been discharged from hospital after treatment whereas 775 have died of COVID.

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