The Antibody Rapid Test Kit (ARTK) offered in private clinics for Covid-19 screening cannot be used for diagnosis, Health Director-General Datuk Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah said today.
Acknowledging the issue raised by certain quarters, Dr Noor Hisham said the ministry has always stressed that the Real time Reverse Transcription-Polymerase Chain Reaction (rRT-PCR) is the only test capable of detecting Covid-19 pathogens.
RT-PCR is a nuclear-derived method for detecting the presence of specific genetic material from any pathogen, including a virus which could take between 24 to 48 hours for a conclusive result.
“The ARTK serology test — which requires a simple pin-prick procedure to draw a drop of blood from the finger — cannot be used for diagnosis because the presence of antibodies cannot confirm an active infection.
“Likewise, a negative result from the test does not guarantee the sampled individual is not infected with Covid-19,” he said in his daily Covid-19 press briefing.
Dr Noor Hisham however said the ARTK could be used for the purpose of studying Covid-19 prevalence among the populace or targeted groups such as migrant workers.
This, he said, was in line with the World Health Organisation’s (WHO) advisory whereby such tests could be for surveillance and epidemiology studies. – MMO