Dr. Ramanan Laxminarayan, eminent epidemiologist and health economist, interviewed by Jeevan Prakash Sharma (Outlook India)
Eminent epidemiologist and health economist Dr Ramanan Laxminarayan tells Outlook in an exclusive interview why rapid Covid antigen tests are problematic and should not, in any case, replace the existing RT-PCR tests.
While the Delhi government's data on Coronavirus cases shows a decline in the number of positive cases, experts believe that the real picture might not be what it looks like. Eminent epidemiologist Dr Ramanan Laxminarayan, who is also Director of the US-based Center for Disease Dynamics, Economics and Policy, tells Outlook in an interview that it is the testing error which shows Delhi’s Covid-19 situation improving.
Q: Do you think Delhi’s Covid-19 curve is flattening?
There is no real flattening happening in Delhi. It appears to be an artefact to the testing method, ie, antigen test.
Q: So what’s the problem with the antigen test?
It is a less sensitive test. Its sensitivity is reported to be less than 50 per cent. It also appears to be temperature sensitive so if it is hotter, it is less sensitive. Another challenge is that It needs operators’ competence. So the person who is taking the swab should be competent to take the right amount of virus particles from the nasal or throat swab. If he or she doesn't do that, you will not get the right result. It is a very problematic test and it should not replace the RT-PCR test at all.
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Image Courtesy: Outlook India
Outlook India, 16 July, 2020, https://www.outlookindia.com/website/story/india-news-no-real-covid-flattening-in-delhi-its-testing-error-health-economist-dr-ramanan-laxminarayan/356824?fbclid=IwAR189Tkko2-skX-u4L0P8FX-UN9XBPFDvpg8CzAJ8V3ZMh8n41_7ND3BIXw