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Self-testing could hide real Covid numbers; kit sales up 15% in Apr: Report

According to ICMR and MoH&FW protocol, individuals who test Covid positive after checking from self-testing kits can be considered as true positives and will not have to get tested again

self-testing kits

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BS Web Team New Delhi

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On Monday, India recorded 9,111 new coronavirus infections, and the active tally breached the 60,000-mark. Amid the ongoing surge in the number of daily Covid cases, the demand for self-testing kits has also gone up significantly.

According to an Economic Times report, the significant increase in the demand for self-testing kits can lead to the masking of real numbers and the magnitude of the infection, said, officials. 

Hasmukh Rawal, promoter and managing director of Pune-based Mylab Discovery Solutions, told ET, that there has been a 15 per cent increase in the sales of self-testing kits in April itself. While the makers of the self-testing kits are extremely happy with the surge, health officials have flagged concerns about underreporting the number of cases, as those who find themselves Covid-positive may not upload their results with the appropriate authorities.

According to the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) and Ministry of Health & Family Welfare (MoH&FW) protocol, individuals who test positive for Covid after checking from self-testing kits can be considered as true positives and will not have to get tested again.

These self-testing kits can often give false results, and people have been recommended to go for an RT-PCR test if they witness any symptoms, according to the report. "The sensitivity of most of these kits is about 50-70 per cent. So, if a person has symptoms but gets negative results on the RAT kit, they should go for an RT-PCR to be fully sure," another official told ET.

Earlier in April, the Union health ministry directed the states to identify emergency hotspots and simultaneously ramp up testing for Covid after India recorded its highest daily case count since September 2022. 

Commenting on the recent surge, Dr. Randeep Guleria, former AIIMS-Delhi Director, said the current situation is not one of panic since the admissions to hospitals haven't increased.

While precautionary doses and vaccinations are constantly being encouraged by health experts, several experts have also added that having a vaccine jab cannot guarantee 100 per cent protection against the virus. 

According to the report, Dr. Sanjay Rai, an AIIMS doctor was of the view that taking a booster dose at this point might do more harm than good. Speaking to ANI, Dr. Sanjay said, "In the initial phase of Covid, when people were not infected in large numbers, people did not have herd immunity, then they needed more vaccines. But now almost all the people in the country have been infected, after which natural immunity has been formed in them. This is more effective in protecting against any virus than the vaccine. Also, we cannot stop any new web with the vaccine, it only reduces death and severity. Giving more steroids to prevent infection may do you more harm than good."

India has nearly ten self-testing kits that are approved by the ICMR, which include Genes2Me's CoviEasy, Mylabs Discovery's Coviself, Abbott Rapid’s Panbio, and Meril Diagnostics’ CoviFind among others.

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First Published: Apr 17 2023 | 5:03 PM IST

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