Rapid Antigen Detection Test: a Test meant to detect Covid 19 through Virus as Opposed to Antibodies

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Rapid Antigen Detection Test: a Test meant to detect Covid 19 through Virus as Opposed to Antibodies

A revolutionary COVID-19 detection method is here

Tuesday, 16th June 2020

The rapid antigen detection test for Covid-19 infection is yet another diagnosis test that has now been approved by the ICMR. It makes the use of antibodies which latch themselves to a specific antigen in order to discern its presence. During the course of the test, doctors are able to distinguish specific pathogens that cause the illness, when antigens attach themselves to labelled antibodies, if the particular sample contains the pathogens.


In India however, only kits, popularly known as Standard Q COVID-19 Ag detection kit, developed by developed by the South Korean company S D Biosensor, which has a manufacturing unit in Manesar, have gained approval. Nasal samples are collected with a sterile swab that comes incorporated in the kit along with a Covid antigen test device, viral extraction tube with viral lysis buffer.


While other countries such as the US and Japan use kits manufactured by local companies, India zeroed in on the SD Biosensor kit based on its evaluation conducted at ICMR and AIIMS. At both sites, results revealed that it has a high ability to detect true negatives, between a range of 99.3% and 100%, making it a more reliable kit.


Rapid antigen detection test Vs RT-PCR test

Although both methods focus on discerning the virus and not the antibodies that are produced by the body, the techniques are varied. While the hitherto relied upon RT-PCR test takes a minimum of 2-5 hours apart from the time taken for transportation of samples. This, as per ICMR, hinders the amplification process in terms of testing capacity in several containment zones as well as in hospital settings. The rapid antigen detection test however, churns out results in a matter of just thirty minutes.


ICMR Recommendations

As per ICMR guidelines, the kit will be used to conduct tests in containment zones or hotspots and healthcare set-ups under stringent medical supervision and all the while preserving kit temperature between 2° and 30°C.


Tests are to be conducted on all symptomatic cases as well as between Day 5-10 of coming into contact with a confirmed case of all asymptomatic cases, in containment zones.


In healthcare settings, they will do a three level classification- persons with influenza-like symptoms; high risk asymptomatic groups (HIV positive, patients diagnosed with malignant disease, transplant patients, etc.); asymptomatic patients undergoing aerosol-generating surgical/non-surgical interventions (neurosurgery, ENT surgery, dental procedures, dialysis, etc.)


For positive results, ICMR recommends to consider the same as true positive. However, it suggests doing a second test by RT-PCR in case of a negative result, for reconfirmation.


How reliable are these tests?

As per the US FDA, while antigen tests reveal accurate positive cases, it cannot be completely depended upon for negative cases which may occur if poor quality specimen is obtained or it is below the sensitivity or detection level of the test. These may need retesting with a PCR kit for confirmation and to completely rule out infection.  


Besides, upon collection of sample, it remains stable for only an hour. Hence, test needs to be conducted at the location of sample collection.



Source: NDTV

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