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India using unreliable antigen kits for one-fourth of daily Covid-19 tests

ICMR chief said that the sensitivity of these tests ranges from 55-85%, which means they could be missing 45-15% of the actual cases.

Published: 04th August 2020 07:21 PM  |   Last Updated: 04th August 2020 07:36 PM   |  A+A-

covid-19 samples

A medic arranges samples for COVID-19 rapid antigen testing in Kolkata (Photo | PTI)

Express News Service

NEW DELHI: Rapid antigen tests (RATs) comprise nearly 25-30% of the total Covid-19 tests in India, the Centre has revealed amid concerns that the growing proportion of these tests may be leading to missing out of a large number of asymptomatic cases.

On Monday, a record of 6.6 lakh tests were conducted across states to detect fresh Covid-19 cases taking the total number of tests past the 2-crore mark.

Dr. Balram Bhargava, director-general of the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR), in a press conference on Covid-19 pandemic management on Tuesday said that initially, RAT consisted of only 5-6% of the total tests being conducted in a day, but this proportion has been growing.

After approving these testing kits in mid-June, the ICMR on June 23 had recommended that the RTPCR test should now be allowed to the people with clear symptoms of the disease who test negative through a rapid antigen test.

In recent weeks, many states seem to be relying excessively on antigen tests which are faster, cheaper and more convenient testing options, but have way lower sensitivity than RTPCR tests.

ALSO READ | COVID-19: India testing much less than countries that have done well, says WHO's Dr Soumya Swaminathan

Dr. Bhargava on Tuesday said that the sensitivity of these tests ranges from 55-85%, which means they could be missing 45-15% of the actual cases.

He also said that 11 companies had approached the Council for validation of their testing kits of which 3 have been approved so far.

Meanwhile, the Centre underlined that 28 states and Union Territories are now doing more than 140 per million tests per day, as recommended by the WHO while for India this figure stands at 479.

Union health secretary Rajesh Bhushan also said that India’s cumulative test positivity rate is 8.89 while the last seven days' moving average for the country is over 9%.

The states whose test positivity rate (TPR) is less than 5%, as per the WHO recommendation in order to control the pandemic, include Punjab, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, and Uttar Pradesh.

“While most states have significantly increased their testing figures—there are some still lagging behind and we are guiding them,” said the secretary.

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