The Rajasthan government has ordered a stop on rapid testing of the coronavirus disease (COVID) after the kit was found to fail in the medical investigation of 95% of the suspected patients it was used to test. Rapid test kits tested 1,232 people, of which only two people tested positive. Even the examination of the infections could not correct the results.
The Rajasthan government is considering returning the kits after being the first state in the country where the use of rapid test kits was approved.
Accuracy in rapid testing just 5%: Health minister
Rajasthan Health Minister Dr Raghu Sharma said that a committee had been formed to know the effect of the rapid testing kit. The accuracy of these kits should have been 90%. However, it is only 5.4%, he said.
While the guidelines about the temperature at the time of testing were followed, the results were still not accurate. Sharma said, “The team of experts has suggested that there is no benefit from the use of this testing kit. We, therefore, stopped investigating suspected patients with the rapid testing kit.”
“We are going back to PCR testing. It will be expedited,” Sharma said. PCR or RT-PCR stands for reverse transcription Polymerase Chain Reaction.
RT-PCR: First, a sample is taken by swabbing the nasal passages or throat. To find evidence of the virus, researchers use PCR to copy and amplify any segments of viral genetic code found in the sample, which makes it easier to detect. This typically involves adding reagents and enzymes, and raising and lowering the temperature of the mixture, known as thermal cycling.
Software then determines when the number of copies of the target sequence exceeds a threshold, indicating if the novel coronavirus is present, and at what concentration.
A test kit costs Rs 600
According to sources, doctors at the SMS Hospital in Jaipur tested the suspects with a rapid test kit and only 5% were found positive. Following this, doctors advised that the PCR test must be restarted.
On 17 April, the first test was conducted in Jaipur with a rapid test kit. So far, the state has received 40,000 rapid kits. A total of 1 lakh kits. The price of a kit is said to be around Rs 600.
ICMR will decide on rapid antibody test
On Monday, Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot said that rapid antibody tests were being conducted only under the guidelines of the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR). The state government procured the test kit with approval of the ICMR.
Sharma said that Rajasthan government had shared this information with the ICMR.