Updated: May 20, 2021 2:18:10 pm
The Indian Council of Medical Research on Wednesday gave its nod to rapid antigen kits that can be used to conduct Covid-19 tests at home. The kits are likely to reduce the burden on laboratories where samples have been piling up as states have ramped up testing to contain and combat the virus.
Following the launch, the nodal body has issued guidelines regarding who can use these kits and how, warning that people should not use them “indiscriminately”.
Who can use the kits?
The ICMR has made it clear that only symptomatic individuals and immediate contacts of people who have tested positive at a laboratory should use the home test kits. “Indiscriminate testing is not advised,” the top medical body said.
“All individuals who test positive may be considered as true positives and no repeat testing is required… All symptomatic individuals who test negative by RAT should get themselves immediately tested by RTPCR,” the ICMR said in its guidelines.
Speaking about what needs to be done once a person tests positive on these home kits, ICMR stated: “Those who test positive are advised to follow home isolation as per the Union Health Ministry’s guidelines. Those testing positive do not have to repeat the tests. However, all symptomatic individuals who test negative by RAT should get themselves immediately tested by RT-PCR. This is especially important as the RATs are likely to miss patients who have a low viral load.”
It added, “All RAT-negative symptomatic individuals may be treated as suspected Covid-19 cases.”
How does one use it?
As of May 20, ICMR has only approved CoviSelf, a test kit manufactured by Pune-based Mylab Discovery Solutions. The kit comes with a user manual, a pouch containing a nasal swab, a pre-filled extraction tube, and one test card.
For the test, users will have to download the Mylab app on their mobile phones, where the credentials have to be filled. Without touching the swab head, one needs to insert it inside both the nostrils to up to 2-3 centimetres. Then, one has to roll the swab five times inside each nostril.
The swab has to be broken from the breakpoint. Covering the tube, two drops have to be added to the test kit by pressing. One has to wait for 15 minutes for the results to appear. Any result appearing after 20 minutes is considered invalid.
At 15 minutes, the app will issue an alert that the result is available.
“All users are advised to click a picture of the test strip after completing the test procedure with the same mobile phone,” the ICMR said.
The data from the phone will be centrally captured in a secure server which is connected with the ICMR Covid-19 testing portal, where all data will eventually be stored.
The medical body has assured that patient confidentiality will be fully maintained.