Home Test Kit Use Jumps, Makers Say All Data Sent To ICMR Portal

Gurgaon : Home rapid antigen testing kits for Covid have seen a jump in sales in the city as cases have surged again in the current wave of the pandemic, but there has been a gap in reading this data with the health department saying it has no way of capturing it unless a patient voluntarily reports it. Now, the companies making the kits have fixed this issue and are sending the data of users directly to the Indian Council of Medical Research’s (ICMR) portal.

The Union ministry of health and family welfare, in a recent letter to all states and Union territories, had recommended the use of self-tests for symptomatic individuals. Many people are opting for these kits as these can be used for a quick check, especially because of the rush at labs due to the current surge.

Earlier, not all were uploading their results on the ICMR portal, making it difficult for the health department to trace these cases and start treatment in case they suddenly need hospitalisation. “It is difficult for us to check how many kits are sold and how many are testing positive. Our teams are calling up all Covid-positive people whose reports are being uploaded on the portal to monitor their condition,” Gurgaon chief medical officer Virender Yadav said.

Meanwhile, kitmakers said they have already fixed the issue and are uploading all data onto the ICMR portal. Hasmukh Rawal, managing director and co-founder of Mylab Discovery Solutions, a leading manufacturer of home test kits, said: “We have witnessed a jump of almost 500% in sales of our self-test kit, Coviself, in the last one week across India. Our kits have a mechanism by which users have to upload a photo of their testing strips on our mobile application. Our app generates a report and directly sends it to ICMR.”

He added, “Patients can claim health insurance for Covid expenses only if they produce a Covid-positive report. Hence, reporting it is beneficial for people.”

People who have used the kits said the testing process is simple. “The result can be obtained only after uploading a photo of the test strip on the mobile app. I even got a call from the health department. The process is very simple. It saves time and protects one from the risk of infection from going out for a test,” said Mona Singh (34), a resident of Sector 48, who tested positive on a home kit last week and is in home isolation at present.

Doctors said that these antigen kits mostly give accurate results, but an RT-PCR test is recommended in case symptomatic people test negative. “Self-test kits can be done at home but can sometimes give false positives or negatives. The problem is that there is a possibility that people who test positive aren’t self-isolating themselves or getting proper treatment,” said Dr Manoj Goel, director (pulmonology), Fortis Memorial Research Institute.

Dr Shiba Kalyan Biswal, a consultant (pulmonary and sleep medicine) at Narayana Hospital, added, “Treatment is prescribed as per the symptoms and further evaluation. If a person has symptoms but tests negative, he/she is suggested to go for RT-PCR for final confirmation.”

The Gurgaon chemist association said both sales and enquiries about home test kits have gone up significantly in the past week. “Sales have gone up after the rise in Covid cases. The maximum sales that we have noticed in Gurgaon are of Mylab’s kits,” said Anil Kumar, a member of the association.


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