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Dubai: Dubai Health Authority (DHA) has banned the rapid viral test for COVID-19 following reports of false positives and negatives.

In a circular sent out to all private hospitals, outpatient care facilities and pharmaceutical establishments, DHA has asked them to refrain from using or selling the rapid viral anti-body testing kits.

The pregnancy-style rapid anti-body testing kits use blood samples of the individual to detect antibodies against COVID-19. However, its accuracy worldwide has been found to be less than 30 per cent.

Confirming the ban, Dr Jyoti Sateesh Rampallivar, specialist clinical pathologist at the Bio-health Diagnostic Centre, Dubai, said: “The efficacy of this test is not reliable. Although the test kits claim 97-99 per cent sensitivity, the test is neither reliable nor specific.”

Explaining how anti-viral kits work, Dr Anthony Thomas, director of diagnostics division at Prime Hospital,said: “Normally, our body produces antibodies in response to a virus or bacteria when we are exposed to it. Usually, Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) is taken through a nasal swab for early detection. In case of the rapid testing kits, the antibodies develop after 5-7 or more days so it is not advisable for early detection and the current kits are not reliable.”

He said, "The rapid antibody blood test which has been banned was proving to be unreliable as it was giving far too many false positives and negatives causing confusion. Our main strength in this fight is effective diagnosis that can help prevention and spread of COVID-19. So withdrawing the test was the right step.”