India is set to initiate antibody tests to confirm whether a person had previously been infected with the COVID-19 virus. The test known as Serological will hunt for antibodies in the blood. The ICMR invited bids for the antibody kit on March 25, 2020.
The Serological tests will allow doctors to determine whether a person had the coronavirus infection previously based on the presence of antibodies in their body. This, in turn, will help understand the spread of coronavirus in the nation.
The test is different from the current COVID-19 diagnostic tests that are being conducted to detect active infections through the testing of the throat or nasal swabs.
According to Randeep Guleria, Chairman of ICMR’s high-level committee set up to review the testing strategy for COVID-19, the Serological test is not confirmatory, it is for the purpose of surveillance to understand whether people got exposed to the virus.
The serological tests will allow researchers to trace and identify people even asymptomatic individuals and better understand how the coronavirus behaves. The random samples tested by ICMR so far do not indicate any community transmission in the nation.
How will Serological tests help?
The serological tests will help identify if people had the virus even if they were asymptomatic. Though antibody tests do not always detect early viral infection, they can reveal if someone ever had a particular virus. The test is important for investigational purposes.
Who will be tested?
The high-level committee is currently deciding on whether the serology tests should be conducted on those who came in contact with positive cases of Covid-19. As per an expert, this will help the committee trace the pattern of the infection.
Those likely to be tested include:
1. Asymptomatic contacts of positive cases
2. Asymptomatic individuals with international travel history
3. Family members of confirmed COVID-19 cases
4. Asymptomatic healthcare workers caring for confirmed coronavirus cases
5. All individuals with severe respiratory illness in
How many testing kits will be required?
As per the current evaluation, the ICMR has estimated that around 1 million test kits will be required for the country.