The Rapid Antigen Test Kit “Coviself”, developed by Pune based startup Mylab, can be used at home. It will be available across India from 1st June 2021.

The second wave of Coronavirus hit the country like an Earthquake, severely damaging the overburdened Indian healthcare system. The devastating second wave took a toll on the Indian healthcare sector and has exposed glaring systemic deficiencies. The acutely distressing experience of unavailability of critical ICU beds, ventilators, oxygen cylinders and vaccines has shaken the morale of all Indians. With the anxiety and gloom shrouding each one of us, any positive development is a ray of hope. One such development is the ICMR’s (Indian Council of Medical Research) approval of Coviself, the first at-home RAT (Rapid Antigen Test) kit made in India.

What is Coviself?

The steep rise of Coronavirus cases due to the highly infectious virus strain since the mid of February 2021 has wrecked havoc across the country. It has also led to an exponential rise in demand for Covid testing, which has run into troubled waters. This is due to lack of testing facilities across India, an exponential increase of Covid cases, lack of trained staff and other bottlenecks.

ICMR has thus given its approval to the RAT kit developed by the Pune based Mylabs Discovery Solutions. The kit costs ₹ 250 and can be used by the people to conduct a Covid test at their homes. Moreover, they can check the results in 15-20 minutes rather than 1-4 days, as is the case with RT-PCR. Thus, Coviself will help to ease the pressure on the system to some extent by reducing the number of people going for lab-based RT-PCR tests.

Who can use “Coviself”?

As per ICMR’s guidelines, Coviself is advised to be used by symptomatic individuals and the immediate contacts of lab-confirmed Covid positive cases. The results of the Rapid Antigen Test (RAT) are less accurate when compared with lab-based RT-PCR tests. It can show false negatives in case of low or mild viral infections, though the test results are more accurate in case of high viral infection. 

A person who has Covid-19 symptoms but tested negative with a RAT kit should get an RT-PCR test done. But persons testing positive through the RAT kit will be considered as Covid-19 positive. The suspected positive cases will be required to follow the protocols of ‘home isolation’ and guidelines issued by the Health Ministry. ICMR has also cautioned against indiscriminate use of the home-based RAT test kit for Covid, and it should be used only for the 2 categories of people described above.

How to use “Coviself”?

Mylab Managing Director Hasmukh Rawala has said that “The kit will contain all the necessary testing equipment, consisting of a pre-filled extraction tube, a sterile nasal swab, one test card, and instructions for use (IFU) leaflet, and a biohazard bag to safely dispose of the waste as it’s a biomedical waste.”

The kit comes with detailed steps on how to use it and involves the use of the ‘Mylab Coviself’ mobile app. User registrations are linked to the ICMR database to ensure data security, confidentiality along with timely traceability of suspect persons. The user can see the results within 15 minutes after taking the test.

Where to get Coviself?

With the approval of the Drug Controller General of India (DCGI), the Do It Yourself test kits would be available in pharmacies and drug stores from 1st June 2021. The kits can be brought from the stores or online without a prescription, the company said. It is to be noted that an RT-PCR test costs around ₹400-₹1500 in different states whereas a RAT test can cost between ₹300-₹900. Whereas Coviself is quite economical as it costs just ₹250 and can be used in the comfort of your home. Mylab is currently manufacturing approximately 70 lakh tests per week and is aiming to ramp up the production up to 1 crore per week.

“Coviself”- A big relief!

“Many western countries have approved self-test kits for their citizens as it is a powerful tool to break the chain of Coronavirus” stated Sujit Jain, director of Mylab. Coviself combines the self-test kit with the AI-powered mobile app which enables easy Covid-19 tests by the users from their homes. At the same time, it submits the test results to the ICMR directly for traceability. “This small step will prove to be a big leap in mitigating the second or subsequent COVID 19 waves”, says Sujit. Coviself is quite economical and is likely to provide relief to the common people in terms of time, cost and stress of booking appointments. Also, it leads to a reduced risk of transmission due to timely tracing of symptomatic and suspect individuals. 

The development of RAT ‘Coviself’ will lead to faster testing and faster results. It will further lead to early detection of the infection and home isolation which is critical in breaking the chain of transmission. Thus, Coviself is the need of the hour as it will bring a significant change and help not only the common people but also the tattered healthcare system to get back on its track as soon as possible. It will help India to become Atma Nirbhar in its fight against the dreaded Coronavirus.

Read about this Indian startup that manufactures portable, economical and AI-enabled medical devices that give a big boost to the lesser developed areas.

Article by Aanchal Sahu, Team ulaunch.

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