(Rishika Iyer, Intern Journalist): The central government ordered an increase in the number of testing for COVID 19 due to the alarming rate at which the number of cases is rising every day. India has now crossed 7 lakh cases and is the third most affected country in the world. They ordered for the Rapid Antigen Test, which is quicker and comparatively less expensive than the normal COVID test.

Antigen tests find proteins that are found only in the virus, which is foreign for our immune system. They target the spike protein which is generally found on the surface of the virus. The Antigen test is done by taking a nose swab which is dipped in a solution that inactivates the virus. Then, it is transferred onto a test strip which will exhibit colored strips if the antigens are present. This states whether a person is COVID positive within 15-30 minutes of testing. 

Approximately 10 million antigen kits are said to be ready by July 15th. This is expected to reduce the number of Reverse Transcription Polymerase Chain Reaction (RT-PCR) method of testing, which India is heavily dependent on currently. The numbers are expected to be much higher if ICMR and AIIMS approve more manufacturers to create the kits. There is also researches going on for making a Do-It-Yourself (DIY) antigen test which will be a home-based test. It will be very similar to that of a pregnancy test. The idea behind this is to ease the pressure on hospitals and COVID testing laboratories and for citizens to find an easy testing method. 

Antigen Test kits are said to be distributed in Delhi, Maharashtra, Punjab, Assam, Uttar Pradesh, Karnataka, Kerala, West Bengal, Telangana, Haryana, Gujarat and the union territory of Jammu and Kashmir. It will be distributed to all the contaminant zones of these states at the earliest. Delhi has purchased one million kits already while Mumbai has purchased 500,000. 

This move is going to increase the number of people being tested exponentially. The kits are to be priced at Rs. 450 which is significantly cheaper than other covid tests. It helps in contact tracing patients and also detects asymptomatic patients.

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