Antibody Kits for COVID-19 | 27 Mar 2020

Why in News

Recently, the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) has invited manufacturers to supply 5 lakh antibody kits for diagnosis of COVID-19 infection.

  • The antibody test will help in screening suspected patients.

Key Points

  • The Antibody Test
    • The antibody test for COVID-19 will act as a screening process that will give quick results in a few hours.
    • The antibody test detects the body’s response to the virus. It gives an indication that a person has been exposed to the virus.
    • If the test is positive, the swab is collected and an Ribonucleic Acid (RNA) test is done using the Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) kit. Therefore, this is a two-stage process.
    • However, the antibody test does not not definitely indicate that a person is infected with COVID-19 infection. It is only for screening.
  • Currently, India is only conducting the conventional RT-PCR test (Reverse Transcription Polymerase Chain Reaction).
  • Antibody Kits vs RT-PCR Test
    • RT-PCR test detects the virus genetic material, which is the RNA.
    • The antibody test detects the body’s response to the virus.
    • RT-PCR provides direct evidence whereas antibody kits provide the indirect evidence.
  • Need for Antibody Kits
    • Shortage of the PCR kits and thus the test is complicated, expensive and time-consuming.
      • The antibody test will be where a large number of people are being quarantined and where everybody cannot undergo an RNA test.
    • Results of Testing in South Korea
      • The antibody test was done in South Korea, one of the few countries which has been able to flatten the pandemic curve.
      • In South Korea, people with a history of travel and contact are screened using the antibody kit.
      • Then, a large number of suspected patients were being quarantined in the country through contact tracing of just a single patient.

Ribonucleic Acid

  • RNA is an important biological macromolecule that is present in all biological cells.
  • It is principally involved in the synthesis of proteins, carrying the messenger instructions from Deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA), which itself contains the genetic instructions required for the development and maintenance of life.
  • In some viruses, RNA, rather than DNA, carries genetic information.

Contract Tracing

  • Contact tracing is the process of identifying, assessing, and managing people who have been exposed to a disease to prevent transmission.

Indian Council of Medical Research

  • Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) is the apex body in India for the formulation, coordination and promotion of biomedical research.
  • Its mandate is to conduct, coordinate and implement medical research for the benefit of the Society; translating medical innovations into products/processes and introducing them into the public health system.
  • It is funded by the Government of India through the Department of Health Research, Ministry of Health & Family Welfare.

Source: IE