Of 5,90,306 tests performed in Telangana till August 8 to detect COVID-19, at least 2.55 lakh were conducted using rapid antigen test (RAT) method that was introduced in the State on July 8.
Of those, the results of 1,536 symptomatic persons turned up negative and were followed up with Reverse Transcription Polymerase Chain Reaction (RT-PCR).
Till early February, samples collected from COVID suspects in the State were sent to National Institute of Virology-Pune for tests. From mid-February, the tests were performed in various labs in Hyderabad using RT-PCR method exclusively till July 7 to detect the infection. People had to wait for two to five days for the results.
Following a growing clamour for more tests, the State government finally scaled up testing from June 16. The number dramatically shot up from July 8 when the Health department utilised RAT kits. In this case, the results are achieved in just 30 minutes to an hour.
Between 3,000 and 6,500 RT-PCR tests were performed on a daily basis from June 20 to July 7.
After RAT kits were put to use, the testing capacity increased to up to 20,000 per day. From July 8 to August 7, a total of 4,61,868 tests, both RAT and RT-PCR, were performed.
Swab samples are collected for the two methods of tests. “Around 2.55 lakh tests were conducted using RAT kits,” said senior officials from the Health department.
However, since there could be false negative results using RAT, it must be followed up with RT-PCR, as prescribed by the Indian Council of Medical Research.
Though the number of tests performed, cumulative numbers and pending results are mentioned in daily media bulletins, the distribution of tests between RT-PCR and RAT and results from the two are not mentioned. There is also no information on how many RAT-negative tests are followed up with RT-PCR which can help people understand the rate of accuracy of tests.
The National Reference Laboratory of Apollo Diagnostics, the diagnostic division of Apollo Health and Lifestyle Limited (AHLL), got empanelled under the Ayushman Bharat Pradhan Mantri Jan Arogya Yojana (ABPM-JAY) for coronavirus RT-PCR testing for the beneficiaries of Ayushman Bharat.
With this development, patients enrolled under the Ayushman Bharat scheme could be benefitted.
However, in Telangana, only the State government’s Aarogyasri health scheme is implemented.