ICMR Designs Kit to Detect Novel COVID-19 Variant Omicron in 2 Hours, Health News, ET HealthWorld

Amid growing cases of the new COVID-19 variant Omicron, the Indian Council for Medical Research (ICMR) in Dibrugarh, Assam has designed a test kit that will be able to detect the virus in two hours.

The development came at a time when the Omicron variant is making its presence felt in various states, with at least 33 cases detected in the country so far.

Until now, it has been a real concern for authorities to quickly detect the variant. Previously, it took three to four days to detect the Omicron variant using the kits currently available on the market.

A team of scientists from the Regional Medical Research Center (RMRC) for the Northeast region, ICMR has developed a test kit that can detect the Omicron variant of COVID-19 in real time.

The team led by scientist Dr Biswajyoti Borkakoty prepared a kit capable of detecting the Omicron variant in 2 hours from a given sample.

“ICMR-RMRC, Dibrugarh, designed and developed a real-time RT-PCR test based on a hydrolysis probe for the detection of the new variant Omicron (B.1.1.529) SARS-CoV-2 (COVID-19) which can detect the new variant within 2 hours. This is important because to date a minimum of 36 hours is required for targeted sequencing and 4 to 5 days for whole genome sequencing to detect the variant ”, Dr Borkakoty said on Saturday.

The kit developed by ICMR-RMRC Dibrugarh is now produced in wholesale by 100 percent made in India, a Kolkata-based company GCC biotech on a public-private partnership (PPP) model.

“The kit was tested against synthetic gene fragments specific for the Omicron variant of SARS-CoV-2 in two unique highly specific regions of the spike protein and also refers to fragments of wild-type control synthetic genes. Internal validation has shown that the tests are 100 percent accurate, ”said Dr Borkakoty.

It can be mentioned that in July 2020, a team of scientists led by Dr Borkakoty had succeeded in isolating the COVID-19 virus (SARS-CoV-2) and in doing so, the ICMR-RMRC Dibrugarh became the third laboratory government to achieve the feat.

States like Delhi, Rajasthan, Maharashtra, Karnataka and Gujarat have reported cases of the new variant of COVID-19, with the total number of Omicron cases in the country reaching 33.

On November 26, WHO named the new variant of COVID-19 B.1.1.529, which has been detected in South Africa, “Omicron”.


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