Help The Kashmir Monitor sustain so that we continue to be editorially independent. Remember, your contributions, however small they may be, matter to us.

COVID-19: GMC introducing IgG test to detect community spread in Kashmir

File Photo (KM/Umar Ganie)

Srinagar, Jun 6: Alarmed by the growing number of COVID 19 cases Government Medical College (GMC), Srinagar is introducing the latest IgG test to gauge the extent of “undetected community spread”.

The Immunoglobulin G, also known as IgG test or IgG Serum, is a simple blood test that measures the level of Immunoglobulin G antibodies in the blood. This test is performed to determine the presence of any infection in the body and the level of immunity of our body.

Confirming the development, Principal Government Medical College, Srinagar Dr Samia Rashid said testing will be conducted in a week’s time.

“This test is used for community surveillance. It will give us a clear picture of the true magnitude of the virus in the valley by telling us how many people within the community have been infected without knowing it, because they had a very mild, undocumented illness or did not access testing while they were sick,” Dr Samia said.

She noted that the crucial data will help us measure the impact of our public health efforts now and guide our Covid-19 response moving forward.

“However, one may still have to do a Reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) test to check if the person still has active infection,” she added.

Nodal Officer GMC Srinagar Dr Salim Khan said the antibody testing is one of the best tools to assess community transmission.

“It will not tell us who is currently infected. It will tell us who has been infected in the past. Generally, antibodies are developed five to seven days after contracting the infection,” Dr Salim said.

He pointed out that the test will show us how large the proportion of asymptomatic patients is, and whether mild symptoms are more common or severe.

“Further, it doesn’t need microbiological laboratory support like the RT-PCR tests,” he said.

President Doctors Association Kashmir (DAK) Dr Suhail Naik said that this testing can help to understand the level of herd immunity our population has achieved and that can give us tacit understanding how to move forward to fight this pandemic

“This is important because based on the sero (blood serum) prevalence of the infection, public health authorities can implement interventions for the prevention as well as control of the disease,” he said.

Dr Suhail said other than that, these testing kits should be used only for surveys among vulnerable or high-risk populations.

“This includes healthcare workers, immune-compromised individuals, frontline workers, or those in containment zones, so that individuals who had been infected and have now recovered can be identified,” he said.

Dr Shahnawaz B Kaloo, a Kashmiri doctor based in Delhi said antibody testing can provide important insight to individuals about their functional immunity to the ongoing pandemic, giving peace of mind and assisting with decisions about return to community activities and the workplace.

“These tests also provide valuable information to the public health officials about the spread of the virus in different communities, especially in light of the high reported numbers of asymptomatic cases. Furthermore, although never a primary diagnostic tool, antibody status can be used to aid the clinical diagnosis of suspected patients,’ he said.