Reduce reliance on RT-PCR tests, Khairy tells Malaysians

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KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysians must reduce reliance on Reverse Transcription-Polymerase Chain Reaction (RT-PCR) tests and shift towards Antigen Rapid Test Kits (RTK-Ag) to screen for Covid-19 as the country enters a transitional phase into endemicity.


Health Minister Khairy Jamaluddin cited several reasons for the public to opt for the said self-test kits rather than the RT-PCR.

“Firstly, the RT-PCR tests are more costly, and by contrast, the RTK-Ag self-test kits are cheaper and more easily available.

“Furthermore, according to experts, the RTK-Ag tests are sufficient to detect positive cases with higher infectivity rates, compared to the RT-PCR tests that are more sensitive. Even people who have recovered from their infection could still test positive under the RT-PCR tests.
“Secondly, the RT-PCR tests take a longer time to generate results, while RTK-Ag tests would produce results in 15 minutes.

“In the current situation, with the highly infectious Omicron variant (in the community), the RTK-Ag tests are more effective as it reduces the waiting time to identify a positive case.

“So, it is better for 1,000 people tested with RTK-Antigen compared to ten people who undergo RT-PCR,” he said, in a short video posted on his Twitter handle.


Khairy said the Medical Device Authority (MDA) would continue to monitor the quality of self-test kits that were sold in the market.

He also stressed that those tested positive for Covid-19 through self-test kits do not have to undergo the RT-PCR tests to verify the results. Instead, they should start undergoing quarantine as soon as possible once they tested positive.

“Nevertheless, the RT-PCR tests will still be used for travellers who enter and exit the country,” he added.

Malaysia is set to begin its transition to the endemic phase on April 1.-NST