Srinagar: The Doctors Association of Kashmir (DAK) on Friday called for use of rapid antibody testing kits that would help greatly in the conduct of mass testing for the novel coronavirus in Kashmir valley.
“Rapid antibody testing will help detect cases faster on a mass scale in the community,” said DAK President Dr Nisar ul Hassan.
“Mass testing will help us to know the actual number of cases. It will help us to detect the undetected cases in the community,” he said.
“There is a high percentage of people who have infection, but have mild or no symptoms, and they go unnoticed because they are not tested. To pick up these cases it is vitally important to do community screening,” he added.
Dr Nisar said the rapid antibody testing will show how much of the population is now immune to the disease. Such data is key to make the right decision about the need for severe containment methods such as “lockdowns”.
“The test can help determine if a person has been infected with the virus even after the virus is no longer present,” he said.
Dr Nisar said the rapid test can also help to identify recovered patients who could donate their antibody-rich serum to help treat critically-ill patients.
“The test will enable us to determine who among healthcare workers have developed protective antibodies and are safe for vital work,” he said.
“Detection of antibodies in high risk individuals such as elderly and those with medical conditions could help them to relax,” he added.
Dr Nisar said the antibody test uses a few drops of blood to determine whether a person has antibodies against the novel virus.
“It is different from the current PCR diagnostic test that determines active infection through nasal or throat swab.
Antibody test is a point-of-care test and does not need any sophisticated equipment or highly trained manpower. Anyone, anywhere can use it.
While the results of PCR tests take 12 to 24 hours, the rapid test results will be available in just 15 minutes,” he said.
“The key to South Korea’s success to combat and curb the outbreak of coronavirus was because of early push towards mass testing,” said Dr Nisar said.
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