How can You Test Yourself for Covid at Home?
As the number of Covid cases increases across the country, labs that screen and test contaminated individuals are overburdened. The Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) has approved home test kits since labs are overburdened with not just testing kits but also people collecting samples. Rapid Antigen Testing is the purpose of the at-home DIY kits (RATs). They aren’t new; India’s first RAT-based self-testing kit was revealed in May 2021, amid the height of the second COVID wave.
These tests are not intended to be used as a substitute for professionally administered RT-PCR assays, which are the gold standard for Covid testing. However, they have an advantage over the RT-PCR test in terms of convenience of use and cost-effectiveness. The RT-PCR test requires finding a professional to collect the sample, ship it to the lab, and wait at least 24 hours for the results. Furthermore, an RT-PCR from a private lab can cost anywhere from Rs 600 to Rs 1000.
Individuals can collect and analyze their own samples with these over-the-counter (OTC) self-test kits, making life much easier at a time when waiting for samples to be gathered after booking a test in a lab can take days. Furthermore, unlike the deep nasopharyngeal swab used in labs to obtain samples for RT-PCR, these are minimally invasive nasal swabs.
Furthermore, there is no need to wait hours for the report; the RAT report is ready in about 20 minutes. The kits range in price from Rs 250 to Rs 350. They can be found in a variety of online pharmacies and e-commerce retail outlets. They’re also widely available in all major drug stores around the country.
While there are many brands on the market, the ICMR has verified 11 and approved seven. They’re all connected to a smartphone app that allows users to read their results and report them to the ICMR so that positive cases are tracked. CoviSelf from Mylab Discovery Solutions, Panbio from Abbott Rapid Diagnostics, CoviFind from Meril Diagnostics, Angcard (saliva-based testing) from Angstrom Biotech, CliniTest from Siemens Healthcare, ULTRA Covi-Catch from SD Biosensor Healthcare, and AbChek from Nulife Care.
Except for Angstrom Biotech’s Angcard, which is the country’s first saliva-based test, most of these tests only require a simple nasal swab sample. Simply take a sample from your nose or throat and place it in the extraction tube that has already been pre-filled. The sample (liquid, since it’s either a nasal swab or saliva) is run over the surface together with the reactive molecules from the solution by the kit. Add a few drops of the solution to the sample well after the sample has been applied. The SARS-CoV-2 virus’s proteins are detected by the test kit (also known as a cassette). These are fairly accurate and safe for youngsters, whether sick or asymptomatic.
However, RATs are more prone to overlook COVID positive cases when the viral load is low. So, if you’ve been exposed to someone who has COVID or if you’re in the ICMR’s high-risk category, don’t rely on home-test kits and obtain an RT-PCR instead.
After finishing the test, users are required by the ICMR rules to take a picture of the test strip. It must be completed on the same phone that was used to download the app and register the user. Individuals who test positive on the RAT home-testing kits are true positives, and no further testing is required. Whether symptomatic or not, if you test positive, you must follow the ICMR guideline for home isolation and care.
If you’re experiencing symptoms and your RAT kits come back negative, you should schedule an RT-PCR test right away. You must treat yourself as a probable COVID case until the RT-PCR is completed, and you must adhere to the home isolation protocol until the RT-PCR is completed.
The manufacturer’s instructions and process for doing the at-home test are detailed in the user manual, which must be followed to the letter, as well as for instructions for properly disposing of the test cassette, swab, and other materials.