Kerala relies more on antigen tests despite CM’s PCR promise

However, not all health experts are convinced of the study findings.

Published: 03rd February 2021 06:08 AM  |   Last Updated: 03rd February 2021 06:08 AM   |  A+A-

A health worker conducts COVID-19 Rapid Antigen test at the district administration office, coronavirus

Representational Image. (Photo | PTI)

Express News Service

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: Almost a week after Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan announced that the state would shift its focus to RT-PCR tests for containing Covid-19 spread in the state, the health department continues to rely on antigen tests. In the report of the past 24 hours published by the department on Tuesday evening, 72% of the 52,940 samples were subjected to antigen tests. 

Notwithstanding the government recalling the antigen test kits provided by one of the suppliers recently because of inaccurate results, the department has published a technical paper defending its decision to stick to antigen tests. The study found that the unwarranted use of RT-PCR as a routine test will send people uninfected to isolation unnecessarily and cause a burden on them as well as the system. Another reason in favour of antigen tests as found in the study is that these provide faster results as compared to the cumbersome RT-PCR test.

However, not all health experts are convinced of the study findings. “There are valid questions raised on the accuracy of the antigen tests conducted here. It cannot be equated with the faster and better technology such a CRISPR-based tests used in other countries,” said Dr Padmanabha Shenoy, an immunologist who has been critical of the antigen-based testing. He was speaking of the attempts made in the study paper quoting international journals such as New England Journal of Medicine to defend the department’s testing strategy.  

Central team to visit state
The Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare has decided to depute a high-level multi-disciplinary team each to Kerala and Maharashtra for better Covid-19 management. The two states alone are contributing to almost 70% of the active Covid-19 cases in the country. It is the second central team visit.

Weekly TPR
Jan 25-31    10.6%
Jan 18-24    10.9%
Number of new cases reported per week
Jan 4-10    35,296
Jan 11-17    36,700
Jan 18-24    42,430
Jan 25-31    38,900

TPR records spike at 10.8% 
The test positivity rate (TPR) in the state rose from 10.3% from Monday to 10.8% on Tuesday when the state recorded 5,716 positive cases. A total of 16 deaths were reported taking the total toll to 3,776. Among the newly infected, 96 people came from outside the state. There were no positive cases reported among the UK returnees. 


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