Ministry of Health has warned against use of rapid anti-body tests by individuals and institutions in diagnosing coronavirus (Covid-19), saying they are not recommended and approved by the World Health Organisation (WHO).
A statement issued yesterday and signed by Secretary for Health Dr. Dan Namarika states that since the antibody rapid tests are not WHO approved, the ministry does not support their use as they may be highly unreliable.
Reads the statement in part: “Until the Ministry of Health has identified a suitable rapid antibody diagnostic test kit, all institutions and individuals are advised and encouraged to continue making use of the available molecular testing technologies that are available in the country.”
In the statement, Namarika further says the ministry is closely working with WHO and the Centres for Disease Control (CDC) to identify the most suitable rapid anti-body test kit for use in the country.
He also warned suppliers and service providers offering the rapid anti-body test kits that once found, they will be referred to the Pharmacy Medicines Regulatory Authority and the Medical Council of Malawi for appropriate action.
In an interview yesterday, the ministry’s spokesperson Joshua Malango said the rapid anti-body tests do not give accurate results.
Said Namarika: “They have low specificity and sensitivity, meaning that they can give false results to individuals. Again, anti-body tests do not necessarily mean there is current infection, but rather, can mean previous infection.”
Last week, Presidential Task Force on Covid-19 co-chairperson Dr. John Phuka announced through a statement that the country was running low on Covid-19 test kits due to shipment challenges.
He said government already procured a consignment of additional test kits but due to shipment challenges, the kits are expected in two weeks time.
Currently, there is a sharp rise in Covid-19 cases in the country with figures surpassing neighbouring countries.