Time to go for aggressive testing for COVID-19

Lok Satta Party founder Jayprakash Narayan.

Lok Satta Party founder Jayprakash Narayan.   | Photo Credit: file photo

Need to seek help of other countries for rapid testing kits, says founder of Lok Satta

Though Centre and several States, including Telangana, have been proactive in announcing lockdown till month-end to slow down community transmission, it is time to focus on aggressive testing for coronavirus positive cases, says founder of Lok Satta and Foundation for Democratic Reforms Jayaprakash Narayan.

“It is crucial to identify as many potential COVID-19 cases as possible and isolate them to stop the silent spread in the community,” he said.

Microbiologist who discovered the Ebola virus in 1976 and Director of London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine Peter Piot has categorically stated last Thursday that screening at the airports and railway stations may not be of much use as 80 % who contract the disease may show no symptoms immediately but they could spread the virus.

‘Supress fever’

Dr. Jayaprakash Narayan said at airports people are screened for fever and many routinely take tablets to suppress fever. Thus the only definite way to identify is testing as the Director General of WHO had underlined. Government should aggressively pursue testing while advocating social distancing, he said.

One of the tests to identify the virus is PCR — Polymerase Chain Reaction. It is a rapid, highly sensitive and specific method used to detect virus in a range of tissues including serum, oral fluids and also in environmental samples.

China has shared with all the countries the genome — genetic sequence — of the novel coronavirus which will be of use in developing specific diagnostic kits.

The founder of Lok Satta, who is a medical doctor, says the government need to share the genome with more private institutions which have the PCR test capability to speed up testing.

Secondly seek the help of countries like South Korea, Taiwan and China which have rapid test kits .

Mathematical models

Explaining the need for aggressive testing he says as per the computer and mathematical models, at least 50 to 70 % of population can be infected and of it 10 to 15 % can be critical and some of them need ICU and ventilator support.

In Britain, health authorities were on record to say that if the reported cases are 1,500, the actual cases could be 10 to 20 times of that, he pointed out.

“This is an issue of science and not bravado. The urgent need is to get as many test kits as possible,” he says.

Another test apart from PCR is to test for antibodies. South Korea and Taiwan have done it and India could ask for technology and India has capability to quickly replicate it.

Even after testing, 80 % of cases can be treated through isolation and only 5 to 10 % of cases would need to go hospitals. This should be extensively conveyed to people so that hospitals and medical personnel would not be overwhelmed, he said.

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Printable version | May 29, 2020 7:37:22 PM |

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