The Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) has directed all States/UTs to follow fresh protocol under which the rapid antibody test should be used only for the surveillance purpose, while reiterating the RT-PCR tests must be continued vigorously as the principal diagnostic tests to contain the coronavirus infection.
"I would like to reiterate that antibody rapid tests are largely to be used as a tool for surveillance with respect to the formation of antibody in persons exposed to the virus. Globally also, the utility of this test is evolving. It is currently being used for the detection of antibodies in individuals. These test results are also dependent on field conditions," Dr GS Toteja, Additional Director General, ICMR, wrote on Wednesday.
Dr Toteja, who has written to all Chief Secretaries of States and UTs, has added: "We have been given to understand that many States have procured such kits and on the State's request, the ICMR has also arranged and made available rapid antibody test kits with a clear understanding that these kits cannot replace the RT-PCR test diagnostic for COVID-19 cases."
The latest direction comes a day after when the ICMR advised States and UTs not to use the rapid testing kits for the next two days till the fresh advisory is not issued, as some States had raised concerns over the faulty rapid antibody tests.
The apex medical research body has stated that in its previous advisory the ICMR had clearly mentioned that the scope, purpose and usage of the rapid antibody tests.
ICMR has always emphasised that the confirmatory test for the diagnosis of COVID-19 infection is RT-PCR test of the throat and/or nasal swab, which detects virus at an early stage.
However to further assist the State, the ICMR will continue to collect data from various States to assess the scope and extent of the utility of these rapid antibody tests in field conditions of our country and will keep advising the States on a regular basis, Dr Toteja said.
In view of this, the States are advised to follow the prescribed protocol for these tests and use it for the purpose for which these kits are meant. "It is reiterated that to contain coronavirus infection, RT-PCR tests must be continued vigorously as the principal diagnostic tests," added Dr Toteja. (ANI)