IIT Delhi develops low-cost COVID-19 testing kit, gets ICMR approval
As the Coronavirus cases continue to surge in India, it is crucial for the administration to carry out more tests every day. In a bid to help the government execute this mammoth task, a team of researchers at the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Delhi has developed a method to detect COVID-19.
According to the IIT Delhi team, the testing method is based on real-time polymerase chain reaction-based methods of diagnosis and will significantly reduce the cost of testing the large population of the country.
Notably, the testing method has been approved by the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR), making IITD the first academic institute to have gotten the ICMR approval for real-time PCR-based COVID-19 testing apparatus.
As per media reports, the ICMR has approved the testing method with a sensitivity and specificity of 100%. Furthermore, the newly developed assay is a ‘probe-free’ method as compared to currently used testing methods which are ‘probe-based’. This will help in lowering the cost of testing without compromising the precision of the assay. Currently, the IIT Delhi team is working on large-scale deployment of the testing kits at cost-effective prices.
This development has come at a time when the ICMR put the use of rapid test kits procured from China on hold for a few days after some faults were detected in the kits. In the meantime, eight ICMR teams will validate the 5 lakh rapid antibody tests that arrived from China last week.
Earlier, an IIT Delhi start-up developed affordable (Rs 45) face masks named KAWACH in order to protest the people from the transmission of Coronavirus infections. The KAWACH masks are equivalent to N95 masks fitted with engineered filtration system providing up to 95% filtration efficiency.
It is important to note that India has carried out a surprisingly low number of tests per million population as compared to other Coronavirus-hit countries. While India has increased its testing by 33 times in the last 30 days in the aftermath of the nationwide lockdown, experts believe more testing need to be done to combat the COVID-19 transmission from the root. From 14,915 samples tested on March 23, the number has crossed half a million on April 22.
According to medical experts, the lockdown has helped in minimizing the spread of Coronavirus. The government is consistently working on increasing testing during the lockdown. India has witnessed a linear growth rate and not exponential in the spread of COVID-19 disease in the first 30 days of the lockdown. Moreover, the number of confirmed patients has stayed in the range of 4-4.5 percent of the total tested cases.
As of April 24, India’s Coronavirus cases crossed 23,000 across the country, and more than 700 deaths due to the disease have been reported.