Affordable COVID-19 Diagnostic Kits
To get out of the current clutches of the novel coronavirus crisis, accurate testing is important. In this regard, a new low-cost diagnostic kit for COVID-19 has been developed by the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Guwahati, in association with Guwahati Medical College and Hospital (GMCH) and RR Animal Healthcare Ltd. These are Viral Transport Media (VTM) kits, RNA isolation kits, and RT-PCR kits.
The VTM kits are designed for the safe collection and transport of the SARS-CoV-2 virus present in oral and nasal swabs. The kit will help to keep the virus in samples intact until the testing procedure is completed.
The researchers used materials available in the local market to make the COVID-19 kits affordable, and they were as per the WHO recommendation. Two batches of these kits were handed over to GMCH and National Health Mission, Assam. Prof. Parameswar Krishnan Iyer, lead researcher, IIT Guwahati, said they are making the kits in bulk to make them available to a larger population.
Two transport media, one for oropharyngeal and one for nasopharyngeal specimen collection swabs, are included in these kits. The Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has validated and recommended them as safe to use. The kit is suitable for the collection, maintenance, long term freezer storage, and transport of viral specimens. The transport medium can preserve the viability of the SARS-CoV-2 virus for up to 72 hours with its unique formulation.
The ergonomically designed swabs with a pre-molded breakpoint on their shaft make the collection of samples safe and easy. The institute has also developed RT-PCR kits and RNA isolation kits, in addition to the sterile VTM kits. To confirm the presence or absence of COVID-19, isolated RNA is converted to DNA using Reverse Transcriptase (RT) enzyme and quantified. These affordable COVID-19 diagnostic kits will be produced in bulk to meet the requirements of Assam and will be made available across the country soon.