Medics arrange rapid tests for COVID-19 at Rajiv Gandhi Government General Hospital in Chennai on April 18

The Indian Council for Medical Research (ICMR) has been subjecting rapid antibody testing kits from China to rigorous quality checks. Sources in the ICMR told India Today of two possibilities if these rapid antibody testing kits fail the litmus test.

After thorough testing of the faulty batch, either that particular batch of kits will be cancelled and the same company will be told to send another batch of testing kits on order.

The second possibility is that ICMR cancels all orders from companies whose rapid antibody testing kits have turned out to be faulty and engage a different company to make up for the order instead.

In total, the government of India has placed orders for about 37 lakh rapid antibody testing kits with companies based out of China, South Korea, and Singapore. Out of these orders, only about 7 lakh kits have reached India to date. Most of the consignments till now have come from China and distributed among states where they were found to be faulty.

Chinese companies Wondfo Biotech and Zhuhai Livzon have received the largest order of 15 lakh rapid antibody testing kits, followed by Maharashtra-based Voxtur Bio Limited which bagged an order of 10 lakh kits. Similarly, Bio Indix from Singapore and SD Biosenzon from South Korea have received orders of 1 lakh kits each from the government of India. The details of the remaining 10 lakh rapid antibody testing kits are yet to be furnished by concerned authorities.

Up until now, only kits imported from Chinese companies Guangzhou Wondfo Biotech and Zhuhai Livzon Diagnostics have been deployed across containment zones in India.

Sources told India Today that ICMR is checking the antibody kits delivered to eight states. A sufficiently large batch is being checked to ascertain where the fault lies. Teams of ICMR officials are also examining each Covid-19 patient who was tested with these rapid antibody testing kits.

However, even as the data is being compiled, ICMR is insisting on the use of RT-PCR tests for diagnoses. Even with the high probability of false positives and negatives, the rapid antibody testing kits could continue to be used under clinical or experimental settings under trained supervision.