opportunity_COVID Testing in India_Hologic Panther System

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On the 21st of November, the Ministry of Home Affairs tweeted that the ICMR has increased RT-PCR testing capacity from 27,000 tests/day to 37,200 RT-PCR tests per day. The urgent need to capacitate India can be seen in the recently issued MHA guidelines for surveillance, containment, and caution as Delhi and other geographies are experiencing a surge. The need to ensure that a high volume of accurate testing takes place in a shorter time is of paramount importance for India. Only then will it be possible to contain the spread of the virus, ensure effective contact tracing and prevent a fourth and fifth wave.

The Hologic Panther System has been brought to India by Haemogenomics. It is a fully automated system which can run up to a 1000 tests a day (molecular testing instruments can only perform about 100 samples per day), with highly accurate results. It has recently been installed at AIMS Rishikesh and has been used around the world, in The United States of America, New Zealand Singapore, Japan, Europe and Australia. At AIMS the Panther has already run over 250 samples, which were initially tested by RT PCR, and found them to be positive (they were inconclusive samples post RT PCR)

The benefits of the Hologic Panther System in comparison to RT PCR and Rapid Antigen Testing are:

  • Panther System yields confirmatory results whereas the RT PCR has shown high number of inconclusive results
  • It eliminates the need for manual intervention i.e. sample preparation, RNA Extraction, amplification, and data management, thereby increasing the safety of laboratory personnel
  • Samples can be run at any time and in any number. Minimal manual intervention leads to less human error
  • It can pick up even small viral copies of the virus in a person. The Panther has been found to have a higher analytical sensitivity than RT-PCR, this removes chances of inconclusiveness
  • The panther produces highly accurate results in a short span of time. It resolves the problems pertaining to false negatives and false positives – this is because the Panther System can detect the infection from 2nd day onwards

These benefits have been assessed and determined from the US FDA’s SARS-CoV-2 Reference Panel Comparative Data, which allows for a more precise comparison between the different authorized tests (based on their analytical performance). 

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