ICMR Approves a Covid19 Home Testing Kit, but Advises Against “Indiscriminate” Use
The Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) has approved the use of Rapid Antigen Testing (RAT) for Covid19 at home. However. the organization stresses that people use it only when absolutely necessary — for example, for individuals who are symptomatic and those who were in contact with Covid19 positive people.
“Indiscriminate testing is not advised. Hometesting should be conducted as per the procedure described by the manufacturer in the user manual,” the ICMR said.
Antigen testing to detect Covid19 was recommended in India in June last year. “However, the use of these tests is currently limited to containment zones and health care settings. RAT has a short turn-around time of 15-30 minutes and thus offers a huge advantage of quick detection of cases and opportunity to isolate and treat them early for curbing transmission,” the ICMR says.
RAT kits are manufactured by the Pune-based Mylab Discovery Solutions Ltd, and retail cost is around Rs. 250 per test. The approval of RAT kits aids India’s ability to test and keep up with the rising number of Covid19 cases in the second wave. India can test up to 33 lakh individuals for Covid19 per day but is currently only able to fulfill 20 lakh tests daily.
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According to their home-testing strategy, the ICMR said, “All individuals who test positive may be considered as true positives and no repeat testing is required. All test positive individuals are advised to follow home isolation and care as per ICMR & Ministry of Health & Family Welfare (MoH&FW) protocol.” However, all individuals who test negative via home testing are still to consider themselves Covid19 suspect cases and wait till an RT-PCR test confirms they are Covid19 negative. This is especially important as RATs are likely to miss a few positive cases with low viral load.
Further, the ICMR clarified that RAT tests should not be repeated on individuals who have tested positive previously via either RAT or RT-PCR test after exhibiting symptoms.
As of now, the home testing mobile app is available to download on both the Google Play Store and the iOS App Store. The app provides comprehensive instructions on how to carry out the test. According to the ICMR, all individuals who take the test must click a photograph of the test result with the same phone that contains the app in order to upload the results to a secure server connected with the ICMR Covid19 testing portal.
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