India may soon tweak rules for Covid-19 testing, prioritising individuals with symptoms regardless of vaccination status or disease history as the country gets set to fight an onset of new SARS-CoV-2 virus variants.
The move will be in line with the World Health Organization’s (WHO) latest guidance for national SARS-CoV-2 testing strategies and diagnostic capacities, Mint reported.
While India has so far administered over 320 million Covid-19 vaccine doses, several among the fully vaccinated or those who have recovered seem not too keen to take a test. What adds to the complexity is mutant variants such as alpha, beta, gamma, delta, and delta-plus surfacing even among those who have received both shots.
According to WHO, if resources are limited and it is not possible to test all symptomatic people, individuals who are at the risk of developing severe disease, health workers, in-patients in health facilities, and the first symptomatic individual or subset of symptomatic individuals in a closed setting, such as long-term care facilities in the setting of a suspected outbreak, should be prioritised for testing, the report said.
WHO also disapproved the practice of serological survey to screen population for covid-19 and allowing Covid self-tests. It is critical for all SARS-CoV-2 testing to be linked to public health actions to ensure appropriate clinical care and support and to carry out contact tracing to break the chain of transmission, the apex global public health agency said.
Dr Rajni Kant, director, Regional Medical Research Centre, and head, research management, policy, planning and coordination of the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR), said “India had been changing its testing strategy from time to time depending upon the epidemiological situation of the virus”. He added that the WHO recommendations were under evaluation and would be adopted if found feasible.