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As rapid blood tests for coronavirus disease (Covid-19) are being made available, India is likely to release detailed guidelines on the use of these point-of-care tests. The modalities on which the government is working on include how to deploy the test in high risk areas, low risk areas, hotspots, etc.

The experts of the task force created to review India’s testing criteria, which is chaired by director- All India Institute of Medical Sciences in Delhi, Dr Randeep Guleria, have been discussing the protocol for the past three days.

“Since it is a sensitive matter as rapid testing has its pros and cons, the matter needed to be thought through. All parameters need to considered before a national-level guideline is brought out,” said a member of the task force, on condition of anonymity.

Country’s apex biomedical research organisation, the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR), on Thursday had issued an interim advisory for use of rapid antibody test (blood test) for Covid-19, especially keeping in mind the hotspots that were increasing in the country and needed all containment measures to be put in place on an urgent basis for quick results.

“Population in hotspot areas may be tested using rapid antibody test. And antibody positives to be confirmed by RT-PCR using throat/nasal swab, and antibody negatives to be quarantined at home,” says the advisory issued by the ICMR.

“It is meant for getting quick results when there is a large number of people to be tested. It will help in knowing the exact disease burden in a short span of time, which is the need of the hour. However, to ensure there are no false positives or false negatives, we recommend confirmatory PCR-based test for all positive results,” said an official in the ICMR, requesting anonymity.

The ICMR had sent out an expression of interest in procuring one million anti-body testing kits from manufacturers across the globe; however due to the shortage of supply globally, the number was revised to 0.5 million testing kits. The first shipment of these kits is expected to come by this weekend.