Is Nucleic Acid Testing the only way to enhance blood safety?

ELISA kits inaccurate, NAT needed, say blood bank officials – Indian Express 1 Sep 2010

20 children get HIV, Hepatitis due to infected transfusion – THE HINDU 12 July 2010

There has been a spurt of reports in the media in recent times suggesting Nucleic Acid Testing (NAT) would have prevented these incidences of transfusion associated infections and ELISA testing in ineffective.

I agree with all that the onus of providing safe blood rests on the blood centres. What I do not agree is the rumour spread by the media about ELISA and some “professionals” working in blood transfusion services falling prey to the well-orchestrated campaign of the manufactures and distributors of NAT.

The reasons for these reported incidents could be many fold – inappropriate selection of blood donors (most critical link in blood safety), use of ELISA kits of substandard quality, inappropriate storage and inadequate training in performing the tests. All these need to be looked into and appropriate corrective / preventive measures instituted.

ELISA is a Time-tested Technology and in fact in recent times the fourth generation tests have been released for use in blood centres.These tests for HIV, Hepatitis B and Hepatitis C are as clinically sensitive as NAT and can easily be automated and performed on the machines already available in the blood centres of India. Only ignorant “professionals” and those with “other” intentions can talk of NAT being made mandatory or ELISA is bad technology, at the cost of taxpayer’s money.

I do hope sense prevails upon these people to understand that if one spends 10% of the cost of NAT testing in promoting regular voluntary blood donation and testing the donated blood with modified antigen + antibody testing on ELISA platform  will certainly help India achieve the desired highest level of blood safety.

One thought on “Is Nucleic Acid Testing the only way to enhance blood safety?

  1. I completely agree with the views published above. NAT testing is too costly for universal adoption in india. If we provide this technology only in bigger centres, that will not be the solution. Better will be to promote voluntary donation, approve only good quality ELISA kits. 4th generation kits can be used. Apart from that i have heard that many smaller blood banks use rapid tests in routine for these tests as even ELISA is cumbersome for them. This can be checked.


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