Rapid antigen tests still being used in 30% of cases

Rapid antigen tests constitute 30% of the COVID-19 tests in Ernakulam despite the government directive to replace it with RT-PCR tests in districts that has clocked vaccination rate of 80%.

The district has administered the first dose to around 90% of the target population as per the latest official estimates. A review meeting held by the government recently had recommended limiting antigen tests to necessary situations of testing inside hospitals. It was also decided to replace rapid antigen tests with RT-PCR tests in districts that had attained 80% coverage in administering the first dose of the COVID vaccine.

An analysis of the pandemic situation by the District Health Department had stated that rapid switching to RT-PCR tests may lead to delay in diagnosis and treatment. Even with maximum RT-PCR capacity, replacing rapid antigen tests with RT-PCR tests may not be possible and it may lead to increase in the ratio of reported and missing cases, it said.

N.K. Kuttappan, District Medical Officer, said that rapid antigen tests are done mostly for testing patients who have to undergo surgeries or dialysis. Rapid antigen tests are carried out in accident/trauma cases as per the guidelines. For all symptomatic cases, RT-PCR is being done and the percentage of such tests has gone up,” he said.

Of the total 78,530 COVID-19 tests done over the last week, the number of RT-PCR tests was 56,320. The number of rapid antigen tests was 22,206. An average 5,000 tests done daily were rapid antigen tests.


The health authorities are hopeful of attaining the 100% target of administering the first dose to the target population in the district by the end of September. With the colleges reopening partially from October 4 onwards, the vaccination of students will be given priority as per the data made available by the Higher Education Department. College managements have to assess the number of students who have not yet received the first dose, according to the health authorities.

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Printable version | Oct 16, 2021 5:31:53 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Kochi/rapid-antigen-tests-still-being-used-in-30-of-cases/article36553478.ece

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