The Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) has asked the states to suspend rapid testing for coronavirus for the next two days after West Bengal and Rajasthan reported errors in results while using the exported testing kits.
Eight ICMR institutes will test the kits in different states in the next two days to validate and check if a batch of the imported kits is faulty, ICMR's top scientist Dr Raman Gangakhedkar said. The feedback will be provided to the states and public, he added.
"We received a complaint from one state yesterday that rapid kits were leading to lesser detections, so we took feedback from three states today," said Dr Gangakhedkar told Hindustan Times.
The kits are showing a huge variation in results, which is not good and needs to be tested. "We are learning that the positive samples of RT-PCR are showing too much variation (when tested by rapid kits) in the range of 6 to 71 per cent," he told the daily. Some discrepancies are however are anticipated given the virus is new.
"New tests show variation as the first generation ELISA is in the crude form, which needs to be refined, but these findings will not be overlooked," he said.
West Bengal was the first state to report that the kits were not accurate, following which Rajasthan put rapid testing on hold on Thursday for the same reason.
Dr Gangakhedkar said that the kits were first tested in Delhi, where they showed an accuracy of 71 per cent. He further said that since COVID-19 antibodies take seven days to build, the accuracy of the kits should increase over time. He noted that the firms supplying these kits need to be notified if they malfunction.
The new rapid testing kits provide results within minutes and are being used for expanding testing capacity across the country and containment of the virus.