THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: Giving a shot in the arm for Kerala’s efforts to prevent community transmission of Covid-19, the state got its first set of 12,400 antibody test kits to be used for mass screening. These are part of the 5 lakh rapid test kits that the ICMR brought from China. However, the state’s own move to bring one lakh test kits - 25,000 in the first batch - has not materialised so far.
A high-level body under senior bureaucrat A Jayathilak, with Dr V Venu, TV Anupama and some other officials as members, has been set up to validate the kits and supervise the testing. A validation committee under a microbiologist is also being set up. Only after the kits are validated, can testing be done. The validation process will take a minimum of three days.
The antibody testing is aimed at qualitative detection of IgM and IgG antibodies against SARS-CoV-2. The screening will help detect any trace of community transmission in addition to identifying health workers who can be deployed for quarantine/isolation work. “The effort is to spot anyone with IgM positive (active infection) and quarantine them immediately. People with IgG positive and IgM negative cases can be deployed as health workers,” said officials.
The antibody tests will be conducted on random samples. Tests will be conducted on suspected Covid cases (even those with negative RT PCR), symptomatic people in high-risk contact category, health workers treating Covid patients and those under the respiratory illnesses clusters. The IgM/IgG tests will give a clear picture of active infection, past infection, in addition to immunity. While IgM positive indicates active infection, presence of IgG indicates past infection. An IgM positive person has active infection and can transmit the same.
So such people are immediately quarantined. But IgG shows that the person has overcome the virus.
“All over the globe, this is the practice followed. Presence of IgG shows that they have become immune to the virus. There are four results - both positive, both negative and just one of them being positive. There are four different approaches for each result. Being IgG positive indicates that you’ll neither get infected nor will you infect others. So such people can be deployed as health workers for quarantine and isolation work,” sources said.
A decision has been taken to conduct antibody tests on even those who tested negative with RT-PCR. “The PCR negative can be of two different kinds. In the first case, there are people who have never been PCR positive. In the second category, there are people who have tested positive and later got cured and hence PCR negative,” pointed out sources.
Validation process to take three days A validation committee under a microbiologist is also being set up. The validation process will take a minimum of three days.The antibody tests will be on those who have never been tested positive.