New Delhi: The Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) on Tuesday recommended newer additional strategies for Covid-19 testing, as it allowed the use of an antigen test to fast-track testing and tracing of positive cases and ease burden on the current RT-PCR test.
"It is now recommended to use Standard Q Covid-19 Ag detection test as a point of care diagnostic assay for testing in the containment zones as well as hospitals in combination with the gold standard RT-PCR test," the ICMR said in an advisory.
The rapid antigen test can be used in the containment zones identified by the state governments and all Central and state government medical colleges and government hospitals, it said.
The test has also been recommended by private hospitals approved by National Accreditation Board for Hospitals and Healthcare (NABH) and all private labs accredited by National Accreditation Board for Laboratories (NABL) and approved by the ICMR as Covid-19 testing labs.
The advisory says that as the entire public health machinery is focused to test, track and treat Covid-19 patients, it is imperative to explore the existing antigen-based assays as point-of-care tests for early detection of SARS-CoV-2.
The ICMR and AIIMS, Delhi independently evaluated the stand-alone rapid point of care antigen detection assay which does not require a specialised machine and can be interpreted with a naked eye.
"The test is a promising tool for quick diagnosis of SARS-CoV-2 in field settings. The assay is known as Standard Q Covid-19 Ag kit and has been developed by Indian companies. On validation, the test has been found to have a very high specificity with moderate sensitivity."
The advisory says that symptomatic individuals who test negative for Covid-19 by rapid antigen test should be definitely tested sequentially by RT-PCR to rule out infection, whereas a positive test should be considered as a true positive and does not need reconfirmation by RT-PCR test
Availability of an antigen-based detection tests is very limited all across the world. Most of such tests have relatively moderate sensitivity but high specificity.