RT-PCR tests account for 88.50 per cent of the total COVID-19 tests conducted so far in December, up from 50 per cent in the corresponding month last year, according to government data.Officials said the increase can be attributed to the “credibility” associated with RT-PCR tests and better testing infrastructure as compared to the last year.Government data showed that out of 11.86 lakh Covid tests conducted so far in December, 10.49 lakh were RT-PCR tests.
The RT-PCR testing rate increased from 50.24 per cent in December last year to 57.65 per cent in January, 64.81 per cent in February, 64.29 per cent in March, 66.02 per cent in April and 75.17 per cent in May.It declined to 71.42 per cent in June, 69.69 per cent in July and 69.81 per cent in August, before increasing again.RT-PCR tests accounted for 70.08 per cent of the total tests conducted in September and 74.40 per cent in October.
In November, 12.31 lakh (82.74 per cent) of the total 14.87 lakh tests conducted were RT-PCR tests.The improvement in the testing infrastructure over the last year is a major reason for the increase in the number of RT-PCR tests, apart from it being the “more reliable” method. Now, more labs are conducting RT-PCR tests and the results arrive sooner than before, a government official said.
A senior doctor at the Lok Nayak Hospital said authorities consider RT-PCR test results “authentic,” be it is for travel, admission to hospital or for entering any place.It could be one of the reasons why more people are going for RT-PCR tests, he said.The data also showed the number of total tests declined considerably from a high of 25.77 lakh in April to 14.87 lakh in November — the lowest in the last year.
Officials attributed the decline to the dip in the number of cases.”Naturally, the number of tests decreased after the second wave ebbed, but we kept conducting 50,000 to 60,000 tests every day,” an official said.Real Time Polymer Chain Reaction (RT-PCR) test detects the viral genetic material (RNA) and is quite accurate.
The results can take up to two days.The advantage of this test is that it can detect the virus even before the emergence of symptoms and allows early isolation of the person, preventing the spread of the infection.RAT detects viral proteins at the peak of the infection. This test is not as accurate as the standard RT-PCR test.A significant percentage of those infected pass the RAT test as a false negative. The advantage is the low price and availability of the result within 30 minutes.