Low-cost COVID-19 test kit to be launched

This should change the paradigm of COVID-19 testing in the country, both in terms of scale and cost.

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Laboratory Rapid test

NEW DELHI: A low-cost COVID-19 test kit developed by Indian Institute of Technology Delhi that uses an alternative testing method will be launched on Wednesday, according to the IIT director here. IIT Delhi, which became the first academic institute to develop a COVID-19 testing method, gave non-exclusive open licence to companies for commercialising the test, but with a price rider.

While the institute had kept a price rider of Rs 500 per kit, the company Newtech Medical Devices, which is launching the kit named ‘corosure’ on Wednesday, has not announced the price yet. Union Human Resource Development (HRD) Minister Ramesh Pokhriyal ‘Nishank and Minister of State for HRD Sanjay Dhotre will launch the kit.

“This should change the paradigm of COVID-19 testing in the country, both in terms of scale and cost. The product, approved by ICMR (Indian Council of Medical Research) and DCGI (Drug Controller General of India), is being launched tomorrow.

“The company Newtech Medical Devices, using IIT Delhi technology, can do two million tests per month at an extremely affordable cost. This is a true example of lab to market,” said IIT Delhi Director V Ramgopal Rao.

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According to the team at IIT Delhi, the current testing methods available are “probe-based”, while the one developed by them is a “probe-free” method, which reduces the testing cost without compromising on accuracy.

Using comparative sequence analyses, the IIT Delhi team identified unique regions (short stretches of RNA sequences) in the COVID-19 and SARS COV-2 genome. “These unique regions are not present in other human coronaviruses providing an opportunity to specifically detect COVID-19,” Professor Vivekanandan Perumal, lead member of the team, had told .

“Primer sets, targeting unique regions in the spike protein of COVID-19, were designed and tested using real-time polymerase chain reaction. The primers designed by the group specifically bind to regions conserved in over 200 fully sequenced COVID-19 genomes. The sensitivity of this in-house assay is comparable to that of commercially available kits,” Perumal added.

With 28,498 fresh cases recorded in a day, India’s COVID-19 tally sprinted past nine lakh on Tuesday, just three days after it crossed the eight-lakh mark, according to the Union health ministry data. The total coronavirus caseload in the country surged to 9,06,752 and the death toll mounted to 23,727 with 553 people succumbing to the disease in 24 hours, the data updated at 8 am on Tuesday showed.

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