The Indian Council of Medical Research on Sunday issued an advisory on the use of rapid antigen detection test that will ensure that those infected with the coronavirus are diagnosed quicker. The country’s nodal body to tackle the coronavirus pandemic advised the use of the testing kits under certain conditions “in combination with the reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) test.

“In view of its high specificity while relatively low sensitivity, ICMR recommends the use of Standard Q COVID-19 Ag detection assay as a point of care diagnostic assay for combination with the gold standard RT-PCR test,” the statement read. The test includes collection of only a nasopharyngeal swab and can be interpreted as positive or negative between 15 and 30 minutes.

The ICMR, however, highlighted that those testing negative through the rapid antigen detection tests should be tested again through RT-PCR. “Suspected individuals who test negative for COVID-19 by rapid antigen test should be definitely tested sequentially by RT-PCR to rule out infection, whereas a positive test should be considered as a true positive and does not need reconfirmation by RT-PCR test,” the research body said in its advisory.

The test should be conducted at the site under strict medical supervision, the ICMR said, adding that it should be done “within one hour of sample collection in extraction buffer”.

The All India Institute of Medical Sciences has also validated the antigen testing kits.

The medical agency noted that the testing kits may be used in containment zones or hotspots for all symptomatic patients with illnesses like the influenza, asymptomatic direct and high-risk contacts with co-morbidities of confirmed cases. In hospitals, the tests are supposed to be used for those symptomatic influenza-like illness patients and asymptomatics, who are admitted or seeking admission for chemotherapy, among other reasons.

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