ICMR team designs kit to detect Omicron variant in 2 hours

Published on Dec 12, 2021 06:09 AM IST

A team of scientists of the Regional Medical Research Centre for the northeast, led by scientist Dr Biswajyoti Borkakoty, has developed the testing kit.

A Kolkata-based company is manufacturing the kit on a public-private partnership model. (AFP File Photo)
A Kolkata-based company is manufacturing the kit on a public-private partnership model. (AFP File Photo)
By | Written by Meenakshi Ray, New Delhi

The Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) has designed a testing kit that will be able to detect the Omicron variant of the coronavirus in a couple of hours, a report has said.

A team of scientists of the Regional Medical Research Centre (RMRC) for the Northeast region led by scientist Dr Biswajyoti Borkakoty has developed the testing kit, which can detect the Omicron variant in two hours from a sample.

"ICMR-RMRC, Dibrugarh has designed and developed a hydrolysis probe-based real-time RT-PCR assay for detection of the new Omicron variant (B.1.1.529) SARS-CoV-2 (COVID-19) that can detect the new variant within 2 hours,” Dr Borkakoty was quoted as saying by news agency ANI on Saturday.

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“This is important because as of now a minimum of 36 hours is required for targeted sequencing and 4 to 5 days for whole-genome sequencing to detect the variant," he added.

A Kolkata-based company, GCC biotech, is manufacturing the kit on a public-private partnership (PPP) model, according to ANI.

Also read | Monitor 27 districts very closely for Covid: Centre

"The kit has been tested against specific synthetic gene fragments of Omicron variant of SARS-CoV-2 within two different highly specific unique regions of the spike protein and also reference wild type control synthetic gene fragments. Internal validation has shown that the tests are 100 per cent accurate," Dr Borkakoty also said, according to ANI.

A team of scientists led by Borkakoty in July last year successfully isolated the SARS-CoV-2 virus and by doing so ICMR-RMRC Dibrugarh became the third government laboratory in the country to achieve the feat.

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The kit has been developed at a time as several states across the country have reported Omicron cases. Delhi, Rajasthan, Maharashtra, Karnataka, and Gujarat have reported cases of the new variant taking the tally of such infections to 33.

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