Paper-strip virus test to be out soon: Vardhan

Sneha Bachhawat| Oct 12, 2020

Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan on Sunday said his Ministry would soon roll out the FELUDA paper-strip test for SARS-CoV-2 diagnosis.

This has been developed by the CSIR-IGIB and approved by the Drug Controller General of India for a commercial launch. The test showed 96% sensitivity and 98% specificity.

“This compares favourably to the ICMR’s current acceptation criteria of RT-PCR kit of at least 95% sensitivity and at least 99% specificity,” Dr. Vardhan said, adding, however, that “an exact date on the availability cannot be specified yet”.

Various factors:

Speaking about the COVID-19 vaccine, the Minister, in his weekly social media interaction Sunday Samvaad, said it was anticipated that supplies would initially be available in limited quantities. “In a huge country like India, it is critical to prioritise vaccine delivery based on factors such as risk of exposure, co-morbidity among various population groups, the mortality rate.”

He said India was looking at the availability of several types of vaccines, of which some may be suitable for a particular age group, while the others may not be.

Categorically denying rumours about the government prioritising the young and the working class for the vaccine for economic reasons, Dr. Vardhan said, “The prioritisation of groups shall be based on two key considerations: occupational hazard and risk of exposure to infection, and the risk of developing severe disease and increased mortality.”

On the issue of emergency-use authorisation of vaccines, he said it was being deliberated at present, and “adequate safety and efficacy data is required for approval… Further course of action will depend on the data generated”.

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