ICMR replies to dentist’s letter on the use of Rapid Antigen Tests for Covid-19 in dental clinics
Rapid Antigen Tests are an easy and economical option for dentists to use in their clinics to identify the potential Covid-19 spreaders visiting their dental clinics. However, these tests are not available for dentists. A letter that was sent to health authorities and ICMR on 17 Sept 2020 has finally received a response on 1 Nov 2020. Read the ICMR responses below.
A letter was sent to ICMR and health ministry on 17 Sept 2020 requesting clarification on the use of Rapid Antigen Tests by the dentists. Although the response from PMO office was instant and the letter was promptly forwarded to concerned authorities, it took almost 1.5 months of follow up to get a response from ICMR.
Subsequent to this letter, Dr Rajeev Chitguppi had asked ICMR to provide clarification on certain questions, to which ICMR finally responded on 1st Nov 2020. Read the questions and responses below.
Question 2. Which private labs conduct these tests where dentists can refer their patients?
Answers to Q 1, 2, 3:
ICMR has authorized all State Govt. to give independent access to suitable Govt./Private institutions to start Rapid Antigen Test (RAT). Letter issued by Secretary-DHR & DG-ICMR in this regard is available on the ICMR website https://www.icmr.gov.in/pdf/
Question No. 4:
Can dentists do saliva-based Rapid Antigen Tests? (Taking samples will be easy)
Answer: ICMR has validated two saliva-based RATs which were not found to be good. Therefore, there is no validated saliva-based RAT for use as of now. A list of saliva-based RATs validated by ICMR is available at https://www.icmr.gov.in/pdf/
Question No. 5:
If dentists purchase antigen test kits from the vendors and give it to their nearby private labs, will it be legal?
Answer: As indicated above, you will need to obtain the permission of the State Health authorities to conduct RAT.
So these were the answers given by ICMR. Now let's go their advisory. If you read the ICMR advisory dated 4 Sept 2020 on "Strategy for Covid-19 testing in India" (click here to read), it states that ICMR’s advisory is generic in nature and may be modified as per discretion of the state health authorities.
So now it becomes imperative for Dental Council of India and Indian Dental Association state branches to pursue the matter further, contact their respective state health authorities and get approvals for the dentists of their individual states.
Dental Tribune South Asia had earlier published a detailed article on how to make use of Rapid Antigen Tests and separate them from RT PCR tests. Click here to read the 27 Aug 2020 article