As Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) has issued new testing guidelines for COVID-19 and has also allowed rapid antibody testing in India, experts believe that it will help the agencies to enhance screening and identifying capabilities.

To ensure speedy detection of Coronavirus cases, those residing in COVID-19 hotspots or areas which have reported large numbers of cases may have to undergo a rapid antibody testing. The ICMR in its interim advisory has recommended the use of the rapid antibody test in the Coronavirus hotspots across the country.

Presently, the government uses the polymerase chain reaction (PCR) tests to detect the Coronavirus from samples of throat or nasal swab of people with symptoms or high-risk individuals who might have come in contact with positive patients.


Existing testing system: The present COVID-19 detection tests being carried out in the country are called PCR, which require nasal or throat swabs. It takes about five hours for the results to come out.

Rapid antibody testing: The rapid testing kits are quicker to get early results. They use blood samples of suspected patients and normally takes around 15-30 minutes to give the result. Under this, one has to clean their finger with an alcohol swab and use the lancet provided for finger-pricks.


Reports suggest that after request from states, including Maharashtra, Telangana, Andhra Pradesh and few other states, ICMR sent its recommendation a few days back to start antibody rapid test across the country.

These kits can be used from small clusters in the town up to village-level to find out the number of infections quickly, which is very important in the present situation.

Thousands of migrant workers returned to their native places since the lockdown and there is a possibility that a small section (3 out of 10, as per the ICMR estimate) may have carried the Coronavirus.

As per the Health Ministry officials, these rapid antibody tests is most suitable to detect whether the disease is spreading in the hotspots.

His family members tested positive Experts say that antibody test does not always pick up early viral infection but they can indicate if someone has any particular virus even if they are asymptomatic.

This type of test is important for community surveillance and investigation purpose.


As per reports, India has already started the process to buy these antibody rapid test kits for the country.

A source from the Health Ministry suggested that India already has purchased around 5 lakh testing kits from the United States, China and South Korea.

The ICMR has already given approval to a dozen such kits for Covid-19, which are likely to be available in the market soon.

One Bengaluru-based company is also working on this project and their rapid testing kits are likely to be available soon.

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