With the COVID-19 self-testing landscape maturing in India, US-based pharma and diagnostics giant Abbott launched Panbio, a rapid antigen self-test kit in India for Rs 325 a test. This is the second such test kit available in the country after Pune-based Mylab Discovery Solutions launched CoviSelf (priced at Rs 250 per test) in May.
Abbott’s Panbio, which will be imported from its Korean plant, will be available at retail outlets by the end of this month. Ambati Venu, Vice President, Pharmaceuticals, Abbott India said that compared to an RT-PCR test, this is much more economical, and therefore, access to a self-test will be much higher.
Venu added that PanBio would be distributed through collaboration between Abbott’s diagnostics and pharmaceutical divisions. “We will make the product available across half a million stores, which will not only cover semi-urban but also tier-2 and 3 cities where the access to RT-PCR was always a challenge,” he said. PanBio Self-Tests will be available via retail pharmacies and through e-commerce platforms, as well as through organizations and institutions. The PanBio professional test demonstrated 95.7 per cent sensitivity and 97.6 percent specificity when benchmarked against RT-PCR tests.
“Abbott is the only diagnostics manufacturer to provide performance data on a rapid antigen test specific for use on children 15 years and younger, including infants,” the company claimed. PanBio is on the World Health Organization (WHO) Emergency Use Listing. Abbott expects to import a few million kits, but did not give a specific number. Venu said, “We are targeting three segments–home testing (self testing); assisted testing in clinics, labs etc; and third is ‘return to work’ segment. As corporates start opening up, airline travel picks up, educational institutions re-open, and hotels resume hosting clients, there is huge potential for such point of care COVID-19 testing.”
In India, Abbott will offer self-tests for use at home, assisted professional testing at point of care and laboratories, as well as workplace testing to help enable a sense of normalcy in returning to places of employment.
“Rapid antigen testing is critical in the fight against COVID-19 and Abbott is delivering a variety of diagnostics options at a critical juncture in the pandemic,” said Sanjeev Johar, divisional vice president of Abbott’s rapid diagnostics business in Asia Pacific. “Self-testing is a proven tool that provides an added layer of defense along with public health protocols and the vaccine roll out.”
The company has also priced the kit competitively. Johar elaborated: “The test is available in four pack sizes – one test pack is available for Rs 325 at the retail outlet to the consumer. As one moves to larger packs, the price per test becomes economical–for 20 test packs, it is Rs 280 per test.”
The PanBio COVID-19 Antigen Self-Test is easy-to-use, Abbott said. “People can take the test by using a simple nasal swab (not the deep nasopharyngeal swab) while following the Instructions for Use steps on pack. For children younger than 14 years, an adult caretaker should help collect the nasal samples and conduct the test procedures. The kit contains all the materials required including nasal swabs, test devices and reagent ampules. No additional instrumentation is required to conduct the test,” it explained.
The results come in 15 minutes, and the test is to be used along with Abbott’s NAVICA mobile app. The app offers a process of self-registration, automatic reading of results and reporting as per ICMR guidelines. Since last August to date, Abbott has shipped 300 million PanBio COVID-19 Antigen Rapid tests for professional use in more than 100 countries across Europe, the Americas, Asia and Africa.