At a time when fresh details and concerns are emerging every day about Omicron, the Indian Council of Medical Research's (ICMR) Regional Medical Research Centre (RMRC) at Assam's Dibrugarh has come up with a testing kit that can detect the new Covid variant in just two hours.
This may be a big relief for the travellers who have been struggling due to the increased wait time for test reports at the airports after fresh restrictions were brought in place to check the spread of the new variant.
The ICMR Dibrugarh team was working on this kit since November 24.
They have tested and scanned this kit with over 1,000 samples of Covid patients, including some from other states who have been detected with Omicron.
Currently, the licensing process of this test kit is underway, and is expected to be available for the lab from the next week.
The team is led by Dr Biswajyoti Borkakoty, Senior Scientist, Regional Medical Research Centre, Indian Council of Medical Research (RMRC- ICMR), 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 2 hours," said Dr Biswajit Borkakoty.
"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," Dr Borkakoty said.
The kit developed by ICMR-RMRC Dibrugarh is now being produced on a bulk basis by a 100 per cent made in India, a Kolkata-based company, GCC biotech on a public-private partnership (PPP) model.
The test kit is to be used in labs that have RT-PCR facility and it is not an on-site test kit like anti-gen test kits.
States including Delhi, Rajasthan, Maharashtra, Karnataka, and Gujarat have reported cases of the new COVID-19 variant with the total number of Omicron cases in the country going up to 35.