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Tuesday, 4 August 2020

In Haryana, unreliable antigen kits used for one-third tests

Sushil Manav
Tribune News Service
Chandigarh, August 3

Haryana ramped up testing by the extensive use of rapid antigen kits in July despite the fact that in more than one-third of the positive cases they have been giving incorrect negative reports.

Official data of the state Health Department reveals that of the 3.48 lakh tests conducted in the state in July, 1.42 lakh used rapid antigen kits.

While the overall positivity rate in the state was 5.7 per cent on August 2, only 3.7 per cent of those tested by rapid antigen kits were found positive. Of the 44,080 people tested by rapid antigen tests in Gurugram, the district with highest number of cumulative cases, only 1,239 (2.8 per cent) tested positive. In contrast, 8,020 of the 71,688 people who were tested by RT-PCR technique were found positive, making the positivity rate 11.18 per cent.

Similarly, of the 29,693 tested by rapid antigen tests in Faridabad, 2,014 (6.8 per cent) tested positive. And, of the 45,305 people who were tested by RT-PCR technique in that district, 6,988 were found positive with a positivity rate of whopping 15.42 per cent.

"The governments, not only of Haryana but also of some other states like Delhi, have switched to rapid antigen tests only to pat their back by claiming that the infection rate has come down. But many of the cases shown negative by the rapid antigen tests are in fact false negatives," said sources, who didn't want to be identified.

Even the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) has admitted that the rapid antigen tests may give false negatives and hence those testing negative have to be confirmed through RT-PCR, which is considered the gold standard for the detection

of coronavirus.

"Those who test negative for Covid-19 by the rapid antigen test should be definitely tested sequentially by RT-PCR to rule out infection, whereas a positive test should be considered as a true positive and does not need reconfirmation by RT-PCR test," said an advisory issued by the ICMR last month.

from The Tribune

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