Testing 1 lakh a day by the end of May: Government

NEW DELHI: As the third phase of the national shutdown begins on Monday, the government plans to increase its Covid-19 testing capacity to test one lakh per day, each for rapid tests (blood-based tests) and the RT more definitive. PCR in late May.

Providing new rapid test kits would mean that the government's plan to use them, particularly in red zones, as well as low prevalence areas to track trends, will come back to work after an initial batch of Chinese kits did not work properly. The kits have been embroiled in controversy because ICMR found them unreliable as they gave wide variation in results.

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As partial movement begins within states and economic activities resume outside containment zones, the government believes it could increase, requiring preparation in terms of laboratory capacity to diagnose those infected.

A total of 10.46,450 samples were analyzed through RT-PCR until 9 am Sunday, while the number of confirmed Covid-19 cases was 39,980. Improved evidence will be required to increase surveillance and rule out further dissemination. We will continue to use rapid antibody tests for surveillance and epidemiological purposes. We have validated between eight and nine companies and orders have been placed with two of them. There is also a company from the South that manufactures these kits in Manesar. We are also exploring other sources to purchase these antibody kits, said a senior official.

The government expects to receive more than 10 lakh of RT-PCR kits from local and foreign manufacturers, while the delivery of a similar number of rapid antibody kits from indigenous manufacturers, and an additional 3 lakh from a South Korean firm, are expected for the next week, the official said.

“The tests will be further expanded. We are making efforts to increase the capacity footprint so that we are prepared to do one lakh of RT-PCR and one lakh of rapid antibodies per day by May 31 and increase it to half a million in another four to six weeks. said another senior official.

Currently, an average of 75,000 RT-PCR tests are performed in one day. However, rapid antibody tests have almost come to a standstill after kits from two Chinese companies failed validation tests.

While some experts believe that India is not conducting an adequate amount of testing and that several cases may remain undetected, the government and ICMR have argued that the testing should be conducted by a symptom-based protocol. The lack of any significant change in the positivity rate despite the highest evidence indicates that the strategy is on the right track.

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