Some states find antigen tests simpler than RT-PCR for COVID-19 testing: Health Ministry
New Delhi: The Health Ministry on Tuesday claimed that some states have become more reliant on moderately sensitive, cheap, and faster antigen tests than the highly-sensitive and accurate Reverse Transcription-Polymerase Chain Reaction (RT-PCR) tests to detect the coronavirus infection.
The clarification came amid speculation that a high dependence on antigen tests could lead to under-detection of cases. Several experts have warned that such tests throw up more false negatives.
Addressing a press briefing, Health Ministry Secretary Rajesh Bhushan said: "Some states have found the antigen test simpler and have reduced the RT-PCR test by 1-3 per cent. The antigen tests have grown. If you look at the national average, they would be around 30-40 per cent."
The specificity is nearly 100 per cent for both the tests, but the sensitivity of the rapid antigen test is of moderate nature and is between 60-85 per cent, while that of RT-PCR is from 80-95 per cent, added the Health Ministry.
Bhushan, however, insisted that the RT-PCR tests are still growing at a rapid rate and the government is setting up new labs to conduct more such tests.
India has conducted 9,25,383 tests in the last 24 hours.
The country has conducted 3.7 crore tests till now and has a total of 1,524 labs. There are 986 labs in the government sector and 538 private labs.
Besides, alluding to the post-Covid complications in some patients, the Health Ministry said that a committee called the Joint Monitoring Group (JMG) is working on a guidance document for people who recover from the coronavirus and are facing complications.
"To finalise, the JMG is obtaining data of recovered patients from the Central government hospitals and AIIMS."
Meanwhile, with 60,975 people testing positive for coronavirus infection in a day, India's Covid-19 tally rose to 31,67,323, while recoveries surged to 24,04,585 pushing the recovery rate to over 75.92 per cent, according to the Union Health Ministry data.
The Director General of the Indian Council of Medical Research, who was also present at the press conference, said that "irresponsible and less cautious people" are driving the pandemic and that these people should be more aware.