National Affairs

Slow Testing, Poor Contact Tracing Led To Surge In Covid Cases, Says Parliamentary Panel

India’s slow testing and poor contact tracing in the initial days of the Covid-19 pandemic led to the exponential growth of cases in the country, the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Health and Family Welfare said in its report. The report, submitted to Vice President Venkaiah Naidu Saturday, said even the specialised cadre whose mandate it is to respond to outbreaks remained under-utilised. The panel also expressed apprehension over the current overreliance on the “less-reliable” antigen tests, saying it could derail the fight against the SARS-CoV2 virus. “The Committee believes that poor contact tracing and less testing could have been a factor for the exponential growth of Covid cases in the country. The Committee is also worried at the use of less reliable diagnostic tests which increase the chances of false negatives. Though the Rapid Antigen Tests may give faster results but are less reliable than the gold standard RT-PCR tests. Large scale use of such tests with low specificity and sensitivity may end up giving false negatives and subsequently derail the Covid-19 containment strategy,” the standing committee said in its 123rd report. The committee also urged the government to “assess the veracity of Rapid Antigen Tests vis-à-vis RT-PCR and other diagnostic tests conducted to bring forth the true picture of the testing capacity in the country.” The panel said it strongly recommends “the Ministry to ramp up the testing facilities in the country for more accurate tests” and “testing rate through the more reliable RT-PCR tests.”

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