Claimed to be the world's most affordable diagnostic kit for coronavirus, a low-cost test kit developed by the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) in New Delhi was launched on Wednesday.
According to IIT officials, the base price of the the RT-PCR assay developed by IIT Delhi is Rs 399. Even after adding the RNA isolation and laboratory charges, the cost per test will go upto Rs 650 and will be considerably cheaper compared to currently available kits in the market. It can deliver results within three hours.
HRD Minister Ramesh Pokhriyal "Nishank" launched the test kit named "Corosure" which will now be available for use at authorised testing labs.
"The Corosure Kit has been developed indigenously and is much cheaper than other kits. The country requires cheap and reliable testing for the country which can help control the pandemic. The kit has received ICMR approval with the highest score and DCGI approved with a very high sensitivity and specificity," he said at the launch.
Referring it to as world's most affordable COVID-19 diagnostic kit, the HRD Minister said the innovation is a step towards "Make in India".
IIT Delhi, which became the first academic institute to get ICMR nod for a COVID-19 testing method, gave non-exclusive open licence to 10 companies for commercialising the test, but with a price rider of R 500 for the assay needed for testing.
The kit Corosure has been commercialised by Newtech Medical Devices.
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 said.
"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," Mr Perumal added.
India saw a record single-day jump of 29,429 COVID-19 cases pushing its tally to 9,36,181 on Wednesday, while the death count climbed to 24,309 with 582 new fatalities, according to the Union Health Ministry data.
This is the fourth consecutive day that COVID-19 cases have increased by more than 28,000.
The number of recoveries stands at 5,92,031, while there are 3,19,840 active cases of coronavirus infection presently in the country, the updated data at 8 am showed.