India, on Thursday, got yet another do-it-yourself rapid antigen test (RAT) kit, with the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) approving a rapid assay kit called COVIFIND, developed by Vapi-based Meril Diagnostics. This is the third such self-use RAT kit approved by the ICMR. Earlier, it had given green singal to CoviSelf test kit developed by Pune-based Mylab Discovery Solutions and The PanBio Covid19 Antigen Test device from Chicago-based Abbott Rapid Diagnostics Division.
Meril Diagnostics is yet to annonuce the price of the kit. CoviSelf of Mylab, however, is priced at ₹250 per kit.
However, experts opined that the results of home-based RAT kits are less accurate than those of RTPCR. As a result, symptomatic individuals testing negative by using self-use kits have to opt for RTPCR test for accurate results.
“These are rapid tests which are recommended for close contact and family members of Covid positive patients. By taking this test, if a person tests positive then they don’t have to take the RTPCR and should be treated as covid positive patient. The drawback with this test is that its accuracy is less than RTPCR,” said Dr Manoj Goel, Director, Pulmonology, Fortis Memorial Research Institute, Gurugram.
Meanwhile, Dr Harpreet Kaur, Head of Transfusion Medicine & Lab, Aakash Healthcare, said the instructions given for testing should be followed else the results may not be appropriate. “Proper sampling is also a must. It is advised to use the home testing mobile app while testing and indiscriminate use should be avoided,” Kaur added.
Dr Goel said using these home-based test kits help in avoiding rush at testing centres and hospitals, and also lead to more testing as it is more convenient to do with these self-use kits. These help in identifying positive patients within minutes and thereby the spread of infection can be curtailed. The home-testing mobile app also helps the government in checking the positivity rate and maintaining a census officially .
Dr Gauri Agarwal, Founder-Director, Genestring Diagnostic Centre, said while she understands that ICMR intends to increase testing penetration it is a little too quick and lacks strict implementation of guidelines.
“It should first define the use case and then set stricter protocols and supply chain. ICMR earlier had written in their advisory in the month of May that it is only for symptomatic individuals and/or immediate contacts of laboratory-confirmed’ positive cases and not for indiscriminate testing. Hence, this kit must not become an OTC product, at least not immediately when the pandemic is still not under control,” she said.