Comparison of rapid antigen testing and RT-PCR in the diagnosis of COVID-19 in Kashmir division
Keywords:COVID-19, Rapid antigen testing, RT-PCR testing
Background: Accurate diagnosis and widespread use of diagnostic tests with easy access is important to contain the spread of SARS-CoV-2. A Real-time reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) has high cost and can be performed in special laboratories. There have been several easy to perform rapid antigen detection tests developed and recommended to use at point of care for timely detection of positive patients and their isolation to limit the spread of infection. The aim of the study was to compare the cost effectiveness and the role of RT-PCR and rapid antigen testing in diagnosing different suspects of COVID-19.
Methods: In this cross-sectional study the data of all the suspected cases who underwent COVID-19 testing over a period of seven weeks at divisional level was used for analysis.
Results: The widespread use of rapid antigen testing makes it more cost effective in detecting COVID-19 cases than the highly sensitive and specific RT-PCR testing.
Conclusions: Rapid antigen tests can be used as a screening testing tool in high-risk groups to identify the infected persons quickly and for preventing the transmission of infection particularly in low resource settings.
FDA. In Vitro Diagnostics EUAs - Antigen Diagnostic Tests for SARS-CoV-2, 2019. Available at: https://www.fda.gov/medical-devices/coronavirus-disease-2019-covid-19. Accessed on 18 February 2022.
ICMR. Advisory on Strategy for COVID-19 Testing in India, 2020. Available at: https://www.mohfw.gov.in/pdf/AdvisoryonstrategyforCOVID19TestinginIndia.pdf. Accessed on 18 February 2022.
Kortela E, Kirjavainen V, Ahava MJ, Jokiranta ST, But A, Lindahl A, et al. Real-life clinical sensitivity of SARS-CoV-2 RT-PCR test in symptomatic patients. PLoS One. 2021;16(5):e0251661.
Pekosz A, Parvu V, Li M, Andrews JC, Manabe YC, Kodsi S, et al. Antigen-Based Testing but Not Real-Time Polymerase Chain Reaction Correlates With Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus 2 Viral Culture. Clin Infect Dis. 2021;73(9):2861-6.
Nash B, Badea A, Reddy A, Bosch M, Salcedo N, Gomez AR, et al. The impact of high frequency rapid viral antigen screening on COVID-19 spread and outcomes: a validation and modeling study. medRxiv. 2020.
6. Indian Express. How much do tests for COVID-19 cost in India? A state-wise breakup, 2020. Available at: https://indianexpress.com/article/india/COVID19test-prices-rates-india-6896237/. Accessed on 18 February 2022.
Kumar R. Bihar caps cost of Covid RT-PCR test at Rs 800, down from Rs 1,500, 2020. Available at: https://www.hindustantimes.com/india-news/bihar. Accessed on 18 February 2022.
8. Indian Express. COVID-19 antigen test cost capped at Rs 100 in Odisha, 2020. Available at: https://www.newindianexpress.com. Accessed on 18 February 2022.
Mina MJ, Parker R, Larremore DB. Rethinking Covid-19 Test Sensitivity - A Strategy for Containment. N Engl J Med. 2020;383(22):120.
Larremore DB, Wilder B, Lester E, Shehata S, Burke JM, Hay JA, et al. Test sensitivity is secondary to frequency and turnaround time for COVID-19 screening. Sci Adv. 2021;7(1):eabd5393.