Verdict on antibody kits next week: ICMR

The ICMR’s decision will determine whether the antibody test kits can be used in the country

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ICMR

NEW DELHI: The Indian Council of Medical Research has started analysing results from the evaluation of antibody test kits imported from China and will come out with its conclusions on their efficacy early next week, a senior government official told ET.

The ICMR’s decision will determine whether the antibody test kits can be used in the country and if India should procure more of them, the official added. Expert teams were sent to eight states following complaints that the test kits sent to them had generated inaccurate results. “The teams have initiated a study in eight states and the results on the validity of antibody test kits will be out soon. The results of this will influence the further purchase of kits,” another government official said.

The official said the kits were procured at the request of the states. The ICMR had also decided to use these kits to check the rate of positivity and the prevalence of the infection in various clusters. The official said this surveillance plan will proceed only after establishing the validity of the kits.

The ICMR had halted antibody testing for two days on Tuesday after receiving complaints about inaccuracies. On Wednesday, it reiterated that the must follow the “prescribed protocol” and use the tests only as a surveillance tool for Covid-19 cases. “These test results are also dependent on field conditions,” it said in a letter to the states on Wednesday.

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“The teams will see how the states have been using them because a lot also depends on temperature conditions,” added the official. The ICMR said it will continue to collect data from the states to assess the scope and extent of the utility of these rapid antibody tests in various field conditions and will issue updated advisories on a regular basis.

“ln view of this, states are advised to follow the prescribed protocol for these tests and use it for the purposes for which these are meant. It is reiterated that to contain coronavirus infection, RT-PCR (reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction) tests must be continued vigorously as the principal diagnostic tests,” additional director general GS Toteja said in the letter.