CSIR-CCMB, Apollo Hospitals tie up for development of rapid Covid-19 testing kits

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The current gold-standard method, on the contrary, requires many expensive reagents and steps that add to the expertise, money and time required for the tests. (Representational image)CSIR-Centre for Cellular & Molecular Biology (CCMB) and Apollo Hospitals on Thursday announced a collaboration for joint manufacturing and commercialisation of an innovative dry swab test — direct amplification rapid RT-PCR (DArRT-PCR) — for SARS-CoV-2 detection.

The test has been developed by CSIR-CCMB and the collaboration with Apollo Hospitals will focus on scaling up manufacturing and commercialisation of the tests jointly. The rapid, safe and cost-effective DArRT-PCR tests will be available nationally through the Apollo Hospitals network.

The DArRT-PCR test allows rapid, safer and more cost-effective SARS-COV-2 testing. The sample collection centres can send dry nasal or oropharyngeal swabs to testing centres with no need for the imported and expensive viral transport medium.

Rakesh Mishra, director, CSIR-CCMB, said, “As people are getting back to their normal lives and businesses, it is important for us to ramp up our testing for the coronavirus. The virus will be here for some time, it seems, and those who test more frequently will be able to contain the impact of Covid-19 better. Cheaper, rapid and easy-to-use tests as these are the need of the hour. With Apollo and its vast network of hospitals and health services, we are positive about impacting many lives towards better health.” The biological sample can be directly isolated from the patient swabs, and testing can be done using a one-step protocol.

The current gold-standard method, on the contrary, requires many expensive reagents and steps that add to the expertise, money and time required for the tests. The DArRT-PCR test reduces the time and human effort by 40-50% in the current setting of testing.

Sangita Reddy, joint MD, Apollo Hospitals Group, said, “As India continues to unlock, easy availability of cost-effective, reliable testing for Covid-19 is the key to getting back to normal. Widespread testing will enable quick identification, immediate isolation and early treatment to prevent spread. With nearly half of all Covid-19 infections being transmitted by people who are asymptomatic, these easy and quick tests will go a long way in facilitating the identification of infected individuals who may be asymptomatic or presymptomatic.”

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