How is Covid-19 testing done in India?

Last updated on May 31, 2024

Covid-19 Tests

The following Covid-19 tests are done in India1:

Rapid Antigen Test (RAT): 

An antigen refers to any foreign matter or viral proteins in the body that triggers an immune response. This test helps identify the antigens related to the Covid-19 virus. Antigen test, also known as rapid antigen test, is a rapid diagnostic test, but these tests have a higher chance of missing an active infection. 


RT-PCR is a method of testing that is used to directly detect the presence of the virus in the sample. The test detects the RNA(Ribonucleic acid) of the virus which is the genetic material of the virus. 


TrueNat is a chip-based, portable RT-PCR machine, originally developed as a portable diagnostic tool for tuberculosis. The latest versions of the TrueNat machine can detect an enzyme (called RdRp) found in the RNA of the coronavirus SARS-CoV-2.

Antibody test

An antibody test, also known as Serology test, is a screening test for Covid-19 antibodies in the blood. It tells if someone was previously infected with the virus that causes Covid-19. The antibody test does not look for the active virus but checks whether the immune system has responded to the infection.

Costs of Covid-19 Tests

The Government  has arranged for  free Covid-19 testing  at approved laboratories across India. Although the test is not free in private labs and hospitals, the Supreme Court(( Shashank Deo Sudhi v. Union of India, 2020 SCC OnLine SC 358)).has stated that free testing should be done for the poor who are eligible under the Ayushman Bharat Pradhan Mantri Jan Aarogya Yojana. Beneficiaries of this scheme will be able to  access  free testing in private labs and access to Covid-19 treatment at government empanelled hospitals.

To get tested  free of cost, a person can go to any government hospital. Calling the helpline numbers before getting a test done will enable a person to get updated information. Please see here for the list of government and  private clinics for testing of Covid-19, as released by Indian Council of Medical Research.

  1. Testing Stratgey, Indian Council for Medical Research, available at, []

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