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Omicron in India: ICMR designs diagnostic kit capable of identifying virus in 2 hours

It was formerly a significant worry for authorities to discover the variation immediately. It used to take three to four days to identify the Omicron type using the tests that are now available on the market.

Omicron in India ICMR designs diagnostic kit capable of identifying virus in 2 hours gcw
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New Delhi, First Published Dec 11, 2021, 9:01 PM IST
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In response to the rising number of cases of the new COVID-19 variant Omicron, the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) in Dibrugarh, Assam, has developed a diagnostic kit capable of identifying the virus in two hours. The finding comes when the Omicron form is making its presence known in several states, with at least 33 instances reported so far in the country. It was formerly a significant worry for authorities to discover the variation immediately. It used to take three to four days to identify the Omicron type using the tests that are now available on the market.

A group of scientists from the ICMR's Regional Medical Research Centre for the Northeast developed a testing kit that identifies the Omicron form of COVID-19 in real-time. The researchers, led by scientist Dr Biswajyoti Borkakoty, developed a technique to identify the Omicron variant in 2 hours from a given sample.

Dr Borkakoty stated that the ICMR-RMRC, Dibrugarh, has conceived and developed a hydrolysis probe-based real-time RT-PCR test to identify the novel Omicron variant within 2 hours. This is significant since, at the moment, detecting the variation requires a minimum of 36 hours for targeted sequencing and 4 to 5 days for whole-genome sequencing.

Also Read | Amid Omicron scare, India might witness third wave of coronavirus by February, suggests IIT Kanpur scientist

The kit created by ICMR-RMRC Dibrugarh is currently being mass-produced on a large scale by a Kolkata-based firm, GCC biotech, under a public-private partnership (PPP) model. The kit has also been tested against particular synthetic gene segments of the Omicron variety of SARS-CoV-2 inside two separate particular unique areas of the spike protein and reference wild-type control synthetic gene fragments, according to the doctor. Internal validation has revealed that the tests are completely accurate, he noted.

In July 2020, a team led by Dr. Borkakoty identified the COVID-19 virus, becoming ICMR-RMRC Dibrugarh the country's third government laboratory to do so. States such as Delhi, Rajasthan, Maharashtra, Karnataka, and Gujarat have reported cases of the novel COVID-19 type, bringing the country's total number of Omicron cases to 33. On November 26, the WHO designated the novel COVID-19 variant B.1.1.529, discovered as 'Omicron.'

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