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Why in News?

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

About the Antibody Test:

  • It will act as a screening process that will give quick results in a few hours.
  • It 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 a Ribonucleic Acid (RNA) test is done using the Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) kit. Therefore, this is a two-stage process.
  • It does not definitely indicate that a person is infected with COVID-19 infection. It is only for screening. India is only conducting the conventional RT-PCR test (Reverse Transcription Polymerase Chain Reaction).

About RT-PCR Test:

  • It detects the virus genetic material, which is the RNA. It detects the body’s response to the virus.
  • It provides direct evidence whereas antibody kits provide the Indirect Evidence.

About Ribonucleic Acid:

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

Why we need Antibody Kits?

  • There is a 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.
  • The antibody test was done in South Korea, one of the few countries which has been able to flatten the pandemic curve.
  • A large number of suspected patients were being quarantined in the country through contact tracing of just a single patient.

About Indian Council of Medical Research:

  • It 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.
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