Covid-19: Hyderabad-based CCMB Develops Dry Swab RT-PCR Kit, Method Can Ramp up Testing

Swastika Das
·2-min read

A dry swab-based direct RT-PCR method of COVID-19 testing, developed by CSIR-Centre for Cellular and Molecular Biology (CCMB), Hyderabad, and approved by ICMR can now be adopted in testing labs of the country. The method is easier to carry out than the current procedures, and can ramp up testing by two three fold using the current infrastructure in the testing labs.

The method involves collecting and transporting the nasal swab in dry state (as opposed to using the viral transport medium which makes the transportation and handling of the samples easier and less prone to spillage and spread of infection. Hence, it requires much lesser packing for sending samples from collection centres to testing centres. In this method, the RNA isolation steps have been replaced by a single-step addition of an easily available reagent.

Extract from this step can be directly used for RT-PCR without compromising on the quality of results. It makes the tests faster, cheaper and safer for healthcare workers, and increase throughput with existing resources and setup. The also reduces manpower requirement by 40-50% in the current setting. The technology has been licensed to various healthcare companies such as Apollo Hospitals, Meril Life, Spice Health and Capital Health Pvt Ltd to manufacture and commercialise these testing kits. Many other industry partners are expected to come on board soon.

“India is struggling with a steep surge in COVID-19 cases. The testing centres are overwhelmed with a number of samples that have to be tested. There is an absolute need to increase our testing capacity within the existing setup. We are positive that the dry swab-based direct RT-PCR method will help in the cause immensely,” said CCMB Advisor Dr Rakesh Mishra.

CCMB has offered to train staff of ICMR-approved government and private testing centres to help them adopt this method. It aims to train 500 testing centres across India, starting this week. Most of these sessions will be online to reach out to centres out of Hyderabad.

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