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India Inc. queues up for rapid antibody tests as COVID-19 cases mount

Updated : July 02, 2020 05:44 PM IST

July 2 marks the 100th day of the nationwide lockdown, and coronavirus infections have crossed the 6 lakh mark. Cases have doubled from 3 lakh to 6 lakh in just 21 days.

In a bid to fight the contagious virus, the government has now shifted its thrust towards rapid antibody tests.  It is done to ascertain if an individual had contracted COVID-19 by looking for such antibodies in their immune system. Last month, the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) had given its nod to all states to conduct rapid antibody tests.

However, the test can only be used for surveillance to check past exposure to COVID-19 and not as a diagnosis to detect current infection. Also, the presence of an antibody need not necessarily mean that the individual is immune from a second infection. In fact, the World Health Organisation (WHO) does not recommend using antibody tests as an immunity passport to get back to work.

The US, countries in the European Union and Singapore, among others have already started antibody tests. In India, business houses, hospitals are, however, queuing up for antibody tests. Mumbai in particular has seen the maximum enquiries for such tests. The Delhi government has asked its district magistrates to set up seven testing centres in each of its 11 districts.

But how effective are these tests? To discuss this CNBC-TV18’s Shereen Bhan is in conversation with Dr. Shravan Subramanyam, managing director of Roche Diagnostics India.
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