New Delhi: With Omicron BA.2 sub-variant being hard to track, experts have said that RT-PCR still remains to be the 'gold standard' of COVID-19 testing.
"It's very important to understand that to date the gold standard for testing and for early detection remains to be the RT-PCR test," Dr. Arjun Dang, CEO of Dr Dangs Lab told ANI. Highlighting the importance of RT-PCR testing, the expert noted that there are two aspects to it -- the timing of the test and the type of RT-PCR test that's being performed.
"The timing of the test means that if your viral load is not significant, or not above the threshold that the RT-PCR can pick up, then obviously you might be testing negative in the initial few days. If the symptoms are persistent, then you must isolate and then repeat the RT-PCR after a few days as per your doctor's advice, the second one is the choice of test," Dr. Dang said.
Speaking on the rapid antigen home testing kits, which has been a rapid surge in its sale during the third wave of the pandemic, Dr. Dang said that even though these kits are come in handy and give quick results if an individual has persistent symptoms, then he/she must follow up with an RT-PCR test.
"The sensitivity of home testing kits is far lower than your traditional RT-PCR test," Dr. Dang said.
He further explained the role of RT-PCR tests and kits approved by ICMR for the testing of COVID-19 variants like Omicron and said, "Although it's very important to understand that the RT-PCR test is nothing but a test that targets particular genes or a DNA sequence that is specific or characteristic of the SARS cov2."
On variant-specific testing kits, he said, "There are certain test kits that have been approved by ICMR that are variant-specific. Now what that means is if there is someone who is infected and wants to know if it is Omicron or Delta or what we read it is there are these test kits that have been approved and are currently under validation at a lab such as my and hopefully if the validation is successful, we should be able to offer these tests as well."
"So, these variants specific kits might give a fair idea of whether it's all Omicron or not. But it's very important to note that genetic sequencing and genomic sequencing that the government is currently doing will remain the gold standard for knowing which exact variant it is," he said.