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On fast-track mode, Kerala to go for rapid testing

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: Kerala is set to bolster its fight against Covid-19 through rapid antibody testing which is expected to fast-track identification and isolation of infected patients. The health department believes this will help contain virus transmission. “If the state has to win the battle against Covid-19, then more samples should be tested. Presently, we go for selective testing. It’s because of the limited resources available. But with the Indian Council of Medical Research(ICMR) giving the nod for rapid antibody testing, we can now test more samples and at comparatively low cost,” said a senior department official.

However, the department has decided against conducting antibody test as a tool for primary diagnosis.
According to the officer, the main use of the antibody test is to study  incidence and local outbreaks. It can also be used sparingly as an adjunct in doubtful cases and to test the contacts of a laboratory-confirmed case. The state has also set six criteria for carrying out rapid antibody testing for Covid-19 among patients/people.

Under these, tests will be conducted on a patient/person who should have a prescription for Covid-19 testing issued by a registered medical practitioner, those who have returned from abroad or their contacts,  suspects or symptomatic high-risk contacts who tested negative during Reverse Transcriptase PCR or RT-PCR, among high-risk individuals like healthcare workers involved in direct care of Covid positive patients, in a locality where a cluster of severe acute respiratory infection (SARI)cases without diagnosis have been reported and among individuals who have recovered from SARI without diagnosis.

‘Result within 30 minutes’ 
“ICMR has approved 12 antibody-based rapid kits for Covid-19 test. As per the guidance note issued by the apex medical research body, it can be done on blood/serum/plasma and the test result will available within 30 minutes. While a positive result indicates exposure to SARS-CoV-2, a negative outcome does not rule out Covid-19 infection,” said an epidemiologist. ICMR had come out with a guidance note for rapid antibody test for Covid-19 on Friday. The state came out with an action plan for the same the very next day.

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