The Indian Council of Medical Research’s (ICMR) Regional Medical Research Centre (RMRC) at Dibrugarh, Assam, has developed a kit that can detect the new variant of the coronavirus, Omicron, in just two hours.
The team as already tested more than 1,000 samples of COVID-19 patients with this kit, including some from other states with Omicron cases.
The kit is in the process of being licensed and is expected to be available from the next week. It is being developed on a bulk basis by a Kolkata-based company called GCC Biotech on a public-private partnership model.
The team that developed the kit was led by Dr Biswajyoti Borkakoty, senior scientist, RMRC, Dibrugarh
“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 two hours,” Dr Borkakoty said.
“The kit is 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.”
States including Delhi, Rajasthan, Maharashtra, Karnataka, and Gujarat have reported cases of the new COVID-19 variant. The country’s Omicron tally is now at 35, with Maharashtra reporting the highest number of cases (17).