India stops using rapid COVID-19 testing kits over quality issues

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The Indian Council of Medical Research, India’s main medical research body, has asked states across the country to stop using COVID-19 rapid testing kits after discrepancies in results.

The state of Rajasthan has completely halted testing through the kits.  

“We did rapid tests on 168 confirmed cases but only 5.4% of them tested positive for antibodies,” said Rajasthan Medical and Health Minister Raghu Sharma, reported The Hindu. “The majority of the confirmed cases tested negative.”

India had imported around one million rapid testing kits from China early April to increase its testing capacity. Other states in the country had also complained that the kits were malfunctioning.

Rapid antibody kits test the presence of antibodies against COVID-19 in the patient’s blood. If the antibodies exist, it would mean that the person had been infected and developed immunity to the novel coronavirus.

The ICMR said it would examine and test the kits further and issue an advisory on their use, said The Hindu. Until then they had to go back to using polymerase chain reaction (PCR)-based testing. The US and UK had also reported problems with the kits’ sensitivity earlier. However, China denied any quality issues.

India has reported 21,393 COVID-19 cases and 681 deaths. The health ministry says the country’s recovery rate stands at 17.48%.