On 3rd July the Assam Government had introduced the Rapid Antigen Testing method in the state in a bid to drive greater efficiencies and speed into the testing and screening process.
A Rapid Antigen Test (RAT) is a rapid diagnostic test suitable for 'point-of-care' testing that directly detects the presence or absence of an antigen. This feature distinguishes it from other medical tests that detect antibodies or nucleic acid. The results can be interpreted by the naked eye and does not require a specialized machine. RAT essentially helps in early detection and containment of the virus and commands approval from ICMR Delhi. Earlier the state was testing COVID-19 samples using the RT-PCR and TrueNat techniques, in which results arrive between one to seven days.
A total of 2 lakh Rapid (Point of Care) Antigen Detection test kits are available in Assam. However, the Rapid Antigen testing method has received a lot of criticism. A high percentage of negative results, determined through the conventional tests, were turning positive after this technique was deployed. This in turn mounted the suspicions of people across states in relation to the accuracy and reliability of the method. Consequently, some states started abandoning this method and relying exclusively on the real-time PCR tests.
Till the end of July the positivity rate of Rapid Antigen Tests in the state stood at 9.4% and in Kamprup metro it was nearly 14%.Fit Northeast spoke to a few Guwahatians. "The results of COVID-19 test cannot be based only on antigen tests. There are a lot of cases where people who were declared to be COVID-19 negative (after undergoing the conventional antigen tests) are turning positive in the RAT method,", says Ikbal Hussain.
"Rapid Antigen Tests are affordable however there are high chances of faulty results", says Nishi Gogoi.
Incidentally till the end of July the positivity rate of Rapid Antigen Tests in the state stood at 9.4% and in Kamrup metro it was nearly 14%.