Short supply of rapid kits hits overall testing in December, affects focussed testing as well

The Covid-19 focussed testing activity in the district has taken a hit as health department officials said that they are facing “short supply” of rapid antigen kits. The focussed testing is getting done in areas having high caseload on directions of the state government. The official records also indicate that the overall daily average testing by rapid kits is the lowest in December.

In the first 20 days of the focussed testing drive taken up in December in high caseload areas of Indirapuram, Vasundhara, Vaishali and Raj Nagar, among others, a total of 20,400 tests were conducted with the help of rapid antigen kits and yielded 226 positive cases. However, during the initial three days of the drive, the health department conducted on average about 1,420 tests per day and later the rapid antigen tests fell down to an average of 1,038 tests per day. In the last two days of the period, the department could conduct only 282 average tests per day.

“The short supply of rapid antigen kits has affected the focussed testing as well as the overall testing. Whenever we send vehicles for procurement, we get only 5,000-6,000 kits which get exhausted in 3-4 days. There is a short supply of and we are trying to increase our RT-PCR testing instead,” said an officer from the district health department who wished not to be named.

Apart from impacting the focussed testing, the shortage of rapid antigen kits has also affected the overall testing in December.

The use of rapid antigen kits was started on June 26 and the department conducted 1,493 rapid tests in that month. According to the district health department data, a total of 59,765 rapid antigen tests (with daily average of 1,928) were conducted in July, 51637 (daily average 1,666) in August, 72904 (2,430) in September, 69553 (2244) in October and 66900 (2230) in November. The figure has dropped down considerably to just 34,679 tests in first 24 days of December, with the daily average of 1,445, which is the lowest.

On the other hand, the focussed testing through RT-PCR method is almost consistent with an average of about 520 tests per day. During the first 20 days of December, a total of 10,403 RT-PCR tests were conducted which resulted in 244 positive cases.

“In December, there has been considerable decline in number of new cases. Since rapid kits are in short supply, we are now focussing that majority of testing gets conducted through RT-PCR method which has more sensitivity. So, we will now make use of rapid kits in cases where immediate results are required, like in cases of deliveries or patients having symptoms,” said Ajay Shankar Padney, district magistrate.

The experts said that more rapid kits should be procured and the testing should not be allowed to drop down for another couple of months.

“More testing, especially the focussed testing, should continue with the help of rapid antigen kits and the number of tests should not be allowed to drop down. Rapid kits give fast results, while in Ghaziabad it generally takes 2-3 days to get RT-PCR test reports,” said Dr Ashish Agarwal, president of Indian Medical Association – Ghaziabad.

“If the test results of RT-PCR can be turned around to a day or less, then increasing the RT-PCR tests will be more feasible. Otherwise, rapid antigen tests should also be taken up and more stocks should be procured,” he added.

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