Karnataka to return rapid antibody test kits to ICMR

Karnataka finds rapid antibody test kits to have only 47% sensitivity, to return them to ICMR

Representative image. (Credit: Getty Images)

Karnataka has found that the rapid antibody test kits for COVID-19 that the Centre supplied to the state have only 47% sensitivity. The state will be returning the kits to the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR).

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Karnataka had received 11,400 rapid antibody test kits from the ICMR a few days back, out of which it had sent around 200 of them to NIMHANS for validation.

After the ICMR, on Monday, sent a circular to all states to return the test kits to the suppliers, Dr CN Manjunath, Director, Jayadeva Institute of Cardiovascular Sciences and Research, and nodal officer for lab testing in the state's COVID-19 task force, said, "We have cancelled the orders we placed to Guangzhou Wondfo Biotech and Zhuhai Livzon Diagnostics for one lakh rapid antibody test kits. Since the ICMR supplied us with 11,400 kits out of the 6.5 lakh kits it procured, we will be returning the kits to them."

Manjunath told DH that the validation at NIMHANS revealed the kits to have only 47% sensitivity. Sensitivity is the ability of a test to identify the true-positives in a population, i.e., the actual number of people who've been infected with the disease. With the rapid antibody testing kits being shelved, the state's plan to randomly test high risk groups has taken a backseat. 

So far, the state has tested 43,791 samples. 

Karnataka now has 22 testing facilities -- 14 government and seven private labs. Many private labs have not tested any samples so far because of the lack of test kits (the state has made it clear that it will not provide test kits to private labs). So, getting an ICMR approval for testing has become a moot point. 

Agreeing to the setback the state's plans of ramping up testing has taken, Manjunath said, "It is true that RT-PCR test kits are in shortage. Even Pune's Mylabs had a shortage in supplying test kits. But we are relying on institutes like Kidwai, Narayana Health and Biocon's Syngene that have received approval for testing. They're big institutes and we hope that they will test a large number of samples."

On reports that the Centre has RT-PCR test kits that will last for only a week, he said, "We have test kits that will last for eight to 10 days. We have ordered for more. We are hoping to receive them before the current kits run out."