Over the last year, both RT-PCR and rapid antigen tests have been used to test for the SARS-CoV2 virus. But the inherent nature of rapid antigen tests—quicker and less expensive than the gold standard RT-PCR—lends itself to home-testing. And diagnostics companies have made the most of it by launching kits that are as easy to use as, say, a pregnancy test or a glucometer.
In less than a month since its launch launch Mint Launch Read more , Pune-based Mylab Discovery Solutions has supplied an initial batch of one million test kits, named CoviSelf, to 100,000 pharmacies and e-commerce site Flipkart. Before it ventured into home testing, it had a headstart on its competitors—nearly 50% of its Covid test kit sales for the year ended March 2021 were attributed to rapid antigen kits sold to the centre, state, and private players. The company pulled in Rs 850 crore ($115 million) in revenue that year, according to Mylab’s promoter and managing director Hasmukh Rawal—a massive jump from the Rs 8.2 crore ($1 million) it earned in revenue for the year ended March 2020.
Aside from Mylab, ICMR and Drugs Controller General of India (DCGI) have also approved home-testing kits such as Gujarat-based Meril Diagnostics’ CoviFind and US-based Abbott’s Panbio. Pre-pandemic, Meril Diagnostics had been running into serial losses.
For all their advantages, rapid antigen tests, which look for certain molecules on the surface of the virus to indicate whether or not the person has contracted Covid, aren’t the most accurate—be it in terms of sensitivity or specificity.
The RT-PCR test, which analyses sequences of genetic material to detect the presence of the virus, has a sensitivity of over 95% and specificity of close to 100% on average.