Since a majority of Chinese test kits for COVID-19 turned out to be faulty, the country’s premier engineering college, the Indian Institute of technology Delhi (IIT-D) has developed a new method of diagnosis and also secured the approval of the top research lab, the Indian Council for Medical Research (ICMR) for the aforementioned.
The IIT-Delhi team has used comparative sequence analyses and identified unique regions (short stretches of RNA sequences) in the COVID-19 /SARS COV-2 genome, which are not present in other human corona viruses. This has paved the way to specifically detect COVID-19.
“This method uses primers targeting unique regions of COVID-19 that were designed and tested using real time polymerase chain reaction. These primers specifically bind to regions conserved in over 400 fully sequenced COVID-19 genomes. This highly sensitive assay was developed by extensive optimisation using synthetic DNA constructs followed by in vitro generated RNA fragments", the statement by IIT-Delhi said.
Touted as a cost-effective technique, the method is "probe-free" and reduces the testing cost while at the same time delivering accurate results.
According to IIT-D, they are eyeing large-scale deployment of the kit at “affordable prices” with suitable industrial partners as soon as possible.
India had obtained nearly a million COVID-19 test kits form China and issues regarding the accuracy of kits in terms of test results were soon raised by authorities. This sparked fear of a compromised COVID-19 response from the government.
Therefore, the Indian government has suspended the use of China-supplied rapid test kits and the ICMR has subjected these kits to rigorous quality checks.
According to the latest figures, there are 23,077 COVID-19 positive cases in India. The country has witnessed 718 deaths so far. On the other hand, 4,749 people have recovered in the country.