In its revised guidelines for the use of rapid antibody test kits, the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) advised states against using kits procured from Guangzhou Wondfo Biotech and Zhuhai Livzon Diagnostics. It also asked states to return kits procured from them in order for it to be sent back.
The medical body said in a release on April 27 that wide variations in results have been recorded on evaluation of kits from these two companies.
The ICMR reiterated that the RT-PCR throat/nasal swab test is best-suited for diagnosis of COVID-19, adding that the rapid antibody test kits that have been procured by several states are only to be used for surveillance.
Frequently Asked Questions
A vaccine works by mimicking a natural infection. A vaccine not only induces immune response to protect people from any future COVID-19 infection, but also helps quickly build herd immunity to put an end to the pandemic. Herd immunity occurs when a sufficient percentage of a population becomes immune to a disease, making the spread of disease from person to person unlikely. The good news is that SARS-CoV-2 virus has been fairly stable, which increases the viability of a vaccine.
There are broadly four types of vaccine — one, a vaccine based on the whole virus (this could be either inactivated, or an attenuated [weakened] virus vaccine); two, a non-replicating viral vector vaccine that uses a benign virus as vector that carries the antigen of SARS-CoV; three, nucleic-acid vaccines that have genetic material like DNA and RNA of antigens like spike protein given to a person, helping human cells decode genetic material and produce the vaccine; and four, protein subunit vaccine wherein the recombinant proteins of SARS-COV-2 along with an adjuvant (booster) is given as a vaccine.
Vaccine development is a long, complex process. Unlike drugs that are given to people with a diseased, vaccines are given to healthy people and also vulnerable sections such as children, pregnant women and the elderly. So rigorous tests are compulsory. History says that the fastest time it took to develop a vaccine is five years, but it usually takes double or sometimes triple that time.
Last week, several states had raised the issue of variation in results shown by the rapid antibody test kits. Accordingly, the government on April 21 halted the use of these kits in India.
Union Health Minister on April 24 said the results of the test kits vary from place to place and 'can't be relied upon'.Follow our full coverage of the COVID-19 pandemic here