A doctor filed a PIL in SC seeking a direction to the Centre to require all state governments compulsorily to start the rapid antibody testing as a screening tool for COVID-19. Advocate Rishi Jain bought in the petition.
On April 4, the ICMR announced the introduction of the rapid antibody testing for COVID-19. It, however, involves conducting blood tests on people displaying influenza-like illness symptoms. This is visible in containment zones, large migration gatherings, or evacuee centres. “Number of COVID-19 cases in India is rising exponentially. In view of this, it is critical to increasing the numbers of tests conducted by laboratories. The positivity rate in cases is still low. Hence, it may help to use the pooled samples for screening,” said the ICMR advisory.
Present Situation Regarding The Testing
At present, diagnosis is affirmed only through REVERSE TRANSCRIPTION-PCR TEST: Polymerase Chain Reaction Test using throat swab/Broncho AlvealarLavag. Thus, the process is burdensome. It is done by expert hands with strict protective measures to prevent aerosol spread. However, it is available in select centres spread across India, the petitioner said.
Rapid Antibody Testing
Rapid Anti Body Test is a simple blood sample-based test. It is done by any registered Pathologist/ Technician and with an immediate result. This simple test uses only a blood sample and does not require expert hands, costly infra, PPE Kits with fewer risks of Aerosol spreads.
If Anti Body Test is negative then if warranted one can confirm by a real-time RT- PCR TEST using throat/Nasal Swab. If RT-PCR TEST is also negative then it is most likely a non-COVID-19 patient. Such a patient might be having normal ILI (Influenza-like illness) and can be treated accordingly, the petitioner said.
It further mentioned that the Government of India and all State Governments have enforced the Epidemic Diseases Act 1897 and the Disaster Management Act 2005 amid the outbreak. The ICMR has chalked out a strategy for COVID-19 testing in India approving 8 testing kits to conduct the test. The petitioner being a medical practitioner is opposing the creation of Isolation Ward. Further requests this Hon’ble Court to give directions to stop the creation of Quarantine Home or Isolation Ward”.