Nepal | June 03, 2020

Rapid coronavirus antibodies tests begin today

Ram Kumar Kamat
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Kathmandu, April 5

The government has deployed 14-member teams of health professionals to conduct rapid laboratory tests in three districts — Kailali, Kanchanpur and Baglung. The team that underwent training on how to safely conduct rapid tests, will reach their destinations tomorrow evening and start conducting tests at quarantine centres tomorrow itself, said sources at the Ministry of Health and Population.

Khem Bahadur Karki, adviser to the minister of health and population, told THT that test kits bought by Omni Group from China recently could also be used for rapid tests, along with other available kits. Experts are testing validation of kits available in Kathmandu.

Karki said Omni Group bought the testing kits from the second-best registered company in China whose products had been used in the United Kingdom and recognised by the European Union.

“Sometimes even products of well recognised brands prove to be substandard and they are subsequently withdrawn from the market. If the kits brought by Omni Group prove to be substandard, then they will not be used, otherwise, they will be used for rapid testing,” he added.

According to Karki, rapid tests that could give results within 15 minutes will be conducted presumably among 7,600 people (at least 7,000 in Kailali and Kanchanpur and 600 in Baglung) who had been quarantined in Kailali, Kanchanpur and Baglung districts and people who came in contact with COVID-19 positive cases in those districts.

He, however, said the number of tests could increase as there could be more people staying in home quarantine.

“Today is the 13th day of the lockdown and this is the right time to conduct rapid tests as COVID-19 positive cases develop antibodies in the second week,” Karki said. He added that other types of coronavirus could also produce antibodies in the human body and to know whether the antibodies were developed by the novel coronavirus or other types of coronavirus, the people who tested positive for COVID-19 in the rapid test would be tested again through polymerase chain reaction method to confirm the results.

Chief of Nepal Health Research Council Anjani Kumar Jha said validation tests of kits to be used for rapid testing in three districts would be done at National Public Health Laboratory, Teku, where PCR, samples of positive cases and COVID-19 patients (two COV- ID-19 patients are undergoing treatment at Sukraraj Tropical and Infectious Disease Hospital) are available.

“The efficacy of testing kits can be determined when results of testing kits in the NPHL laboratory match the results of the PCR method,” he added. He said had the World Health Organisation done the validation of rapid testing kits for COVID-19, government agencies in Nepal would not have to take pains to do the validation.

A version of this article appears in e-paper on April 06, 2020 of The Himalayan Times.

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