SARS-nCoV-2 can spread from symptomatic patients with COVID-19, but also from asymptomatic individuals mandating a robust surveillance for possible timely interventions. It is essential for the control of virus spread within the community, for which the frequency of testing and speed of reporting, also keeping in mind the test sensitivity and specificity rate, play a crucial role.
Rapid Antigen Testing (RAT) is an essential point-of-care testing which will help in rapidly escalating the number of testing done per individual at a particular day, to assess the spread of the virus and also to limit further exposure. This test provides results within 20-30 minutes depending on the kit used, giving an advantage and an edge to the on field medical teams to start timely interventions and response mechanisms. The essentiality of this test has led the ICMR to also recommend Rapid Antigen Test Kits to meet the growing demand of testing and as per their algorithm, once positive via RAT assures positivity of the individual and they need not go for repeat tests.
In limited resource settings and in the context of the economic background in India, RAT is one of the best platforms provided for testing as an alternative to other modes for rapid, inexpensive and early detection of the most infectious COVID-19 cases in appropriate settings, as also acknowledged by the World Health Organisation (WHO).
In this context, Johns Hopkins University Bloomberg School of Public Health in partnership with I3T have joined hands with Department of Community Medicine & Family Medicine, AIIMS Kalyani to create a community intervention and implement the outreach program to scale up the testing facilities through RAT for effective diagnosis and treatment in the rural belt of Shreenagar Public Health Centre at Nadia.