India approves home test for Covid-19, to cost ₹250 per kit
India approved on Wednesday the first home test for Covid-19, allowing people to buy a kit that costs ₹250 and gives results within 15 minutes.
The kit, manufactured by Pune-based Mylab Discovery Solutions Ltd, is a rapid antigen test (RAT) that should be used only by those who have Covid-19 symptoms or had close contact with an infected person, the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) said.
“Indiscriminate testing is not advised. All individuals who test positive may be considered as true positives and no repeat testing is required. All test positive individuals are advised to follow home isolation and care as per the ICMR and Ministry of Health & Family Welfare protocol,” read the ICMR statement.
Rapid antigen tests are typically less sensitive than the lab-based RT-PCR tests, which means they are likely to lead to some false negatives, although experts believe their accuracy icreases when the viral load is high – a point when they are also likely to be contagious.
ICMR director general, Dr Balram Bhargava, in one of the recent press briefings on Covid, announced that the council was exploring home-based Covid-19 testing solutions.
“The test kit will be available in the market in about a week’s time. It took us about 5 months to get the product ready. We have priced it at ₹250 per kit which includes taxes. The kit has been designed in a way that it is extremely simple to use and it is not a biohazard. There is a disposal bag that comes along for safely disposing off the items after use,” said Hasmukh Rawal, managing director, Mylab Discovery Solutions.
“A positive test will take about 5 to 7 minutes, and a negative result will take 15 minutes max,” he added
The pouch comes with a pre-filled extraction tube, a sterile nasal swab, one test card, and a biohazard bag. The person undertaking the test will have to download the Mylab coviself app on their mobile phone.
“Insert the nasal swab in both the nostrils up to 2 to 4 cm or until resistance is met. Roll the swab five times inside both your nostrils. Immerse the swab in the pre-filled tube and break the remaining swab; close the cap of the tube. On the test card put two drop one after the other by pressing the tube and wait for 15 minutes for the result. Any result taking more than 20 minutes to appear is considered invalid,” says the user manual.
There will be two sections on the test card—the control section and the test section. If the bar shows up only at the control section ‘C’, the result is negative, and if the bar appears on both the control section and test (T) section, the antigen has been detected and the test is positive.
The manual adds that people will need to put the card under the mobile phone’s camera and the app will read the test and upload a report accordingly.
Experts say these home-based tests are useful when runaway infection pattern is observed.
“These tests are used in developed countries such as US and UK. Since these tests have high specificity, it can be used at places where positivity rate is high so as to be able to detect cases early. Positive cases through RAT are mostly true positives,” said Dr GC Khilnani, former head, pulmonology department, AIIMS, Delhi.
The UK offers two free home tests to its citizens a week to encourage regular testing in order to detect cases early.