AGENCIES, New Delhi: The efficacy of Rapid Testing Kits for coronavirus brought in from China have been questioned by three states, one of which, Rajasthan, has refused to use them. Following complaints from Rajasthan that only 5.4 per cent of the tests have proved effective, the Indian Council of Medical Research — the nodal body in the fight against coronavirus — has asked states to hold off the use of the Rapid Testing Kits for two days, in which they hope to resolve the matter.
While worldwide, medical experts agree that the rapid testing method is not foolproof, questions were raised about the Chinese kits that reached India last week. Beijing has denied the kits are of inferior quality. The ICMR was against the widespread rapid tests, advocating its use only as a screening process in hotspots. Sources said it agreed only after pressure from states, which wanted to conduct more tests.
At the daily briefing on the coronavirus situation in the country, ICMR’s Dr Raman R Gangakhedkar was asked about the faulty rapid testing kits.
“We have received complaint from a state yesterday and so far discussed with three states. Too much variations have been reported in results of rapid test kits and RT-PCR kits. We advise states not to use them for the next two days,” he said.
“These kits will be tested and validated in the field by our teams. We will issue a clear-cut advisory in two day. If problems are detected in batches, we will tell the companies for replacement,” he further added.
He said that a total of 4,49,810 samples for COVID-19 infection have been tested till Tuesday of which 35,852 were done on Monday.
As many as 29,776 samples have been tested in 201 labs under the ICMR network, and 6,076 at 86 private laboratories, he said.
Rajasthan health minister Raghu Sharma told reporters that the rapid test kits had only 5.4 per cent accuracy. Besides Rajasthan, Kerala and Tamil Nadu have also expressed their unhappiness with the results, sources said.
Rajasthan conducted around 170 tests in the COVID-19 hotspots, starting with Jaipur, since Friday. The kits were used for testing of patients who have already tested positive for coronavirus. But the Rapid Test Kits found them negative, which raised questions about the credibility of these kits, the minister said.
The Indian Council Of Medical Research has now asked all states not to use the new rapid antibody test for COVID-19 for two days. The ICMR said it would investigate the issue of faulty Rapid Testing Kits and would definitely not ignore this defect.
Beijing last week denied that the kits were not up to mark, saying they attach “great importance to the export of medical products”. The stricter regulatory measures introduced involve registration certificate for medical device from the State Food and Drug Administration and meeting quality standards of the importing countries.
Earlier this month, the government had procured around 7 lakh Rapid Testing Kits from China and distributed across the country after the ICMR advised testing for all people in the COVID-19 hotspots. The testing started four days ago.