The Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) has said that the rapid testing kits imported from China are giving inaccurate results and therefore, states have been asked not to use them for at least two days.
According to ICMR Chief Scientist Raman Gangakhedkar, the kits would be tested and validated in next two days by the on-ground teams instead of labs, adding Covid-19 was a new disease and the testing kits required to be refined.
“We had received complaints from one state on Monday. On Tuesday, we asked two more states if they also experienced the problem. The difference in results of RT-PCR positive samples is huge, 6 to 71 per cent, at some places. We have advised states to halt its use for two days,” he told media persons.
A lot of variations were observed in results of positive samples, tested by RT-PCR which was not good, he said and added, the ICMR would be in a position to give any advisory in at least two days.
The reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) is a laboratory technique combining reverse transcription of RNA into DNA and amplification of specific DNA targets using polymerase chain reaction (PCR).
“We will deploy teams of our 8 institutes for on-ground validation of kits. If problems were found, those batches of kits would be sent to the manufacturing company for replacement,” Gangakhedkar said.
The ICMR has received 500,000 rapid test kits from two Chinese companies – Guangzhou Wondfo Biotech and Zhuhai Livzon Diagnostics.
When West Bengal accused the ICMR of sending faulty kits, it refuted the charges saying the kits should be stored in below 20 degree Celsius temperature to get accurate results. It also said if the variation in results was not big then there was no need to worry.
But now the ICMR has said any new observation about the testing kits would not be taken lightly and would be cross-checked thoroughly.
Major progress in fighting Covid-19, lockdown beneficial: ICMR
The Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) on Tuesday said Covid-19 is a new disease, and in the last three and half months, they have made major scientific progress — developing PCR tests, seeing 5 vaccines go into human trial, et al. This has never happened before in case of any other disease, it said.
Detailing on the significance of the lockdown, Dr. Raman Gangakhedkar, head of infectious disease and epidemiology at ICMR, said it has created double impact in the country’s fight against Covid-19, adding that lockdown along with social distancing were never health measures, but now they have played a crucial role.
He stressed that coronavirus infection is a new disease and in past three and a half months, “we have come to a stage where we can do diagnosis, developed PCR tests, much information on the disease has been gathered and out of 70 candidate vaccines, five candidate vaccines have gone into human trial phase. It has never happened in any other disease so far.”
Gangakhedkar added that the government is working at a rapid pace to tackle this viral infection. “Lockdown had double impact – it gave time for preparedness for providing care for all patients, we can give hospital care; and through lockdown, we are also trying to buy a chance for drug development,” he added.
Lav Agarwal, Joint Secretary in the Health Ministry, said that the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research has initiated a randomised clinical trial to reduce mortality in critical COVID-9 patients through drug efficacy evaluation. The Drug Controller has given approval for this trial and it will soon begin in multiple hospitals, he added.