Madhubani to return rapid antigen kits that gave false Covid positive results
Authorities in Bihar’s Madhubani district have decided to junk the entire batch of the rapid antigen detection (RAD) kits that falsely detected 25 swab samples of train passengers as positive, triggering concern about a possible wave of fresh infections.
A total of 76 passengers on long-distance trains arriving at Madhubani railway station were found to be Covid-19 positive in tests conducted by RAD kits in the last few days. Suspicious of the high number of positive results, authorities sent fresh samples of 148 passengers including the 25 who had tested positive for retesting using real-time polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) tests late Tuesday evening. To everyone’s relief, all the samples have tested negative.
“The result of all the 148 samples sent for (RT-PCR) test yesterday (Tuesday) has come. I spoke to the Madhubani district magistrate, and he said that all reports are negative. After cross-checking, there is no positive case there,” Mangal Pandey, Bihar’s health minister said in Patna on Wednesday.
The district health authorities have decided to probe possible lapses, leading to the erroneous result and return the entire batch of allegedly faulty RAD kits to the Bihar Medical Services Infrastructure Corporation Limited, which had purchased them through empanelled private vendors.
“I am recommending a probe, not to penalise anyone but to correct lapses, if any, in our system of testing and reporting Covid-19 cases at the district level. The probe committee will include two senior doctors, two laboratory technicians and an officer from the administrative side,” said Dr Sunil Kumar Jha, Madhubani’s civil surgeon.
Efforts to reach Madhubani district magistrate Amit Kumar proved futile as he did not respond to calls or text messages.
“The medical officers ought to be more responsible in reporting such cases, especially when the prevalence of the disease has come down. They need to be careful of false positive cases before reporting them. Similarly, laboratory technicians, who collect swab samples, should also keep two separate batches of rapid antigen detection kits to check for inconsistency in results,” said another official, who did not wish to be named.
As many as 76 samples collected from among 148 train passengers from Delhi and Mumbai were found positive in testing by RAD kits at the Madhubani railway station between September 17 and 20.
Dr Jha said that about 22 passengers, who had tested positive in the rapid antigen test, are still untraceable as they had given incorrect addresses and mobile numbers. Their samples can be retested only after they are located. Fresh samples of the remaining 29 people who had returned positive results in RAD testing will be sent for confirmatory RT-PCR tests today, he said.
The prevalence of coronavirus has dropped significantly with Bihar reporting 59 active cases on Tuesday evening. Madhubani and Patna, at 15 each, have the highest number of active cases.
Bihar has reported 725,907 Covid cases and 9,659 related deaths so far ever since the first case was reported in the state on March 21, 2020. With 716,188 people having recovered, the state has a recovery rate of 98.65%.