ICMR designs new testing kit for Omicron

Scientists at the ICMR-RMRCNE have developed a testing kit for Omicron that can detect the variant in 2 hours.

The Regional Medical Research Centre (RMRC) for the Northeastern region, a division of the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR), has developed a testing kit that will be able to detect Omicron in two hours.

The team of scientists that have developed this kit was led by Dr. Biswajyoti Borkakoty, who said on Saturday, " 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."

Source: DNA

Why is this an important development?

Dr. Borkakoty further explained 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.

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 percent cent accurate." - Dr Borkakoty.

In July 2020, a team of scientists led by Dr. Borkakoty had successfully isolated the SARS-CoV-2 virus. This made ICMR-RMRC Dibrugarh the third government laboratory in the country to achieve this feat.

The kit holds even more significance as several states across the country have reported 33 cases of Omicron infection.

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