A health worker collects a swab sample for a RT-PCR COVID-19 Coronavirus test at a community centre in New Delhi. Pic/PTI
The Centre for Cellular and Molecular Biology (CCMB) has licensed dry swab-direct RT-PCR Covid-19 testing method developed by it to Capital Health Services India for commercialisation.
CCMB director Rakesh K. Mishra expects the testing method to be available in about a week. The development is likely to help in ramping up Covid-19 testing at a time when the country is battling a massive surge in the pandemic.
"We license the dry swab direct RT-PCR COVID19 testing method to Capital Health Services India Pvt Ltd for commercialization. Way to go for ramping up COVID19 testing across the country," the CCMB tweeted on Wednesday.
The Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) in November last year had approved the simple and fast method of dry swab-direct RT-PCR, developed by CCMB, a constituent lab of the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR).
This method developed by CSIR-CCMB is a simple variation of the existing gold standard RT-PCR method and can easily scale up the testing by two to three fold with no new investment of resources, the ICMR had announced.
After evaluating this method and finding an overall concordance of 96.9 per cent, the ICMR issued an advisory for the use of CSIR-CCMB dry swab method, considering its lesser cost and quick turn-around time.
CSIR-CCMB has been testing samples for coronavirus since April 2020. Having worked closely with the healthcare workers of Telangana, it identified some of the key issues that slow the testing process. In response to it, the researchers developed the dry swab RNA-extraction free testing method for Covid-19.
The dry swab-direct RT-PCR method involves collecting and transporting the nasal swab in dry state (as opposed to using the viral transport medium VTM) which makes the transportation and handling of the samples easy and less prone to spillage and spread of infection.
Secondly, the step of RNA isolation from the sample is omitted and involves only simple processing of the sample followed by direct RT-PCR using the kit recommended by ICMR.
Omitting the step of RNA isolation offers a huge benefit over the conventional method, as the RNA isolation is a major bottleneck in terms of time, cost and trained manpower.
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