ICMR’s Indigenous ELISA Antibody Test Approved For Mass Production

It can test 90 samples in 2.5 hours. These are cost effective, rapid & can be tested at any clinical setting level.

2 min read
ICMR develops "India's first indigenous" antibody test.

National Institute of Virology, Pune has developed "India's first indigenous" anti-SARS-CoV-2 human IgG ELISA test kit - 'Kavach Elisa' - for antibody detection of COVID-19, said Dr Harsh Vardhan, Union Health Minister on Sunday, 10 May.

"The technology has been transferred to Zydus Cadila for mass-scale", he added.

In a series of tweets, he also informed that this kit was validated in Mumbai and has high sensitivity and accuracy. It can test 90 samples in 2.5 hours. These are cost effective, rapid and can be tested at any level of clinical setting.

The enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) can detect and measure IgG antibodies in blood samples. It is used for detecting HIV infections too.

Speaking to FIT, Dr Shahid Jameel who is a Virologist & CEO of Wellcome Trust DBT India Alliance said, "ELISA tests are more quantitative than the rapid antibody tests that are available right now. Rapid antibody tests only tell you if IgM and IgG antibodies are present or not whereas ELISA tests can tell if someone has high or low levels which becomes important to access whether people will be protected by these antibodies or not."

It will help also the government in surveillance of proportion of population exposed to coronavirus.

Earlier, India had canceled antibody tests from China due to fault in their reading, as reported by FIT.

As RT-PCR tests can only detect the RNA of coronavirus, it is not useful to check if a person had coronavirus infection in the past and recovered. However, since more than 70% cases of coronavirus are either asymptomatic or mildly symptomatic, it is important to check antibodies in the blood.

While RT-PCR tests are used for diagnosis purpose, antibody tests are used only to check past infection and presence of antibodies in the blood.

It is important to note that the antibodies take some time to develop. Talking about two types of antibody tests (IgG and IgM), Dr Shahid Jameel told FIT earlier,

“IGM response is a strong response that comes around day 7 post symptoms and lasts till around day 45 post symptoms. The IGG response appears around day 10 post symptoms and continues till about day 50 and that was the point at which they terminated measurements. The understanding is that IGG would continue much longer. So IGM does not continue, it’s a transient response, IGG is a more persistent response and lasts longer.”

Earlier experts had questioned why India is not developing its own antibody tests. This new development will come as a relief for many.

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