The State government will implement the renewed Covid-19 testing guidelines that were released by the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR), highlighting the need for a focused testing strategy on those who require the most and avoid wasting resources by offering Covid tests to healthy asymptomatic individuals.

The refreshed ICMR guidelines had advised State governments to avoid offering Covid tests to healthy individuals with no symptoms, contacts of confirmed Covid-19 cases, unless they are high-risk, patients who completed their home isolation, patients who were discharged from a Covid-19 facility and those undertaking inter-state domestic travel.

The ICMR guidelines makes a lot of sense, as it is high time that mass Covid testing of all individuals is avoided and tests are done only for individuals with symptoms and those who fall under high-risk category with over 60 years and have pre-existing diseases like diabetes, hypertension, chronic kidney, lung disease, cancer, heart diseases and individuals who are obese, pointed out senior health officials here.

The State government’s inclination towards implementing ICMR guidelines is also in line with change of strategy in dealing with

Covid-19 pandemic in United Kingdom. Recently, former chairman of Britain’s vaccine taskforce, Dr Clive Dix also had given a call to end mass Covid testing and implement it only for the most vulnerable.

The top IIT researchers from Kanpur and Hyderabad, who have developed the SUTRA model of pandemic projections, have also maintained that the new testing guidelines were correct.

The Covid third wave is going to have a very large number of cases with nearly all of them being mild. So it is better to focus resources towards those who need treatment instead of testing a very large number of people, researcher from IIT-Kanpur, Dr Manindra Agrawal, who is part of SUTRA consortium, said.

There is an argument that if asymptomatic cases are not detected and isolated then they might infect a vulnerable population.

“This is partly true. However, one needs to keep in mind that we were only detecting 1 out of 33 cases in India even with previous strategy. So isolating some asymptomatic cases is not going to make any material difference in how the pandemic spreads or in protecting people with comorbidities,” Dr Agrawal maintained.

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