Real-Time Reverse Transcription Polymerase Chain Reaction (RT-PCR)


  • Recently the Indian Council of Medical Research’s (ICMR) approval for the use of antibody-based testing for COVID-19.


  • So far, India has been employing the real-time reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) method for testing for COVID-19.
    • RT-PCR is a laboratory technique combining reverse transcription of RNA into DNA and amplification of specific DNA targets using polymerase chain reaction. It is primarily used to measure the amount of a specific RNA.
  • ICMR officials have stated that the use of RT-PCR testing is increasing and that India would be approaching full capacity soon.
  • Given the increasing number of cases and the calls for higher amount of testing, ICMR has approved the use of antibody-based testing for COVID-19.
  • RT-PCR test detects the virus and the antibody tests, which use blood, detect the body’s response to the virus. A positive result in the antibody test tells that the person was exposed to the virus.


  • The Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) has stated that the rapid antibody-based blood test for COVID-19 would be initially deployed in clusters and hotspots showing high incidence of confirmed cases.
  • The ICMR is emphasizing that the testing has to be focussed and judiciously done with contact-tracing being important to decide whom to test. The AarogyaSetu App would help in contact-tracing.
  • Earlier the ICMR had issued guidelines for implementing antibody-based blood tests.

About Pooled sampling

  • Studies conducted by the Center for Disease Dynamics on pooled sampling has observed that pooled COVID-19 tests could help scale up testing and identify and contain disease hotspots.
    • Pooled sampling involves testing samples from multiple patients with a single PCR test.
  • This method has been used previously in the early stages of the HIV epidemic.
  • This strategy could reduce the time, cost, and resources required whilst identifying infected people and estimating the infection rate. It would allow the health authorities to identify community clusters for targeted public health interventions.


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