World’s Cheapest COVID-19 Testing Kit Launched by IIT-D: 10 Things to Know

On July 15, the Indian Government launched Corosure, a commercial low-cost COVID-19 test kit, developed by the Indian Institute of Technology, Delhi.

Here are 10 things you need to know about it.

1. Corosure is a fully Made-in-India test kit.

2. The diagnostic kit is available at authorised laboratories at a base price of Rs 399.

3. The test kit was developed by PhD scholars, post-doctoral fellows, and professors of IIT Delhi’s Kusuma School of Biological Sciences.

4. NewTech Medical Devices, a Delhi-based manufacturing company, obtained the license to manufacture it commercially from IIT-Delhi, and has also received approval from both Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) and Drug Controller General of India (DGCI).

5. An RT-PCR (Reverse Transcription Polymerase Chain Reaction) also known as the swab test is one of the common tests to detect the presence of novel coronavirus. As of now, the test costs anywhere around Rs 2000-3000. Researchers at IIT-Delhi say even after adding the RNA isolation and laboratory charges, the cost per test will be considerably cheaper compared to currently available kits in the market, and the final price of the kit will be maintained at Rs 650.

6. The Corosure kit can deliver results within 3 hours.

7. According to the team at IIT Delhi, the current testing methods available are “probe-based”, while the one developed by them is a “probe-free” method, which reduces the testing cost without compromising on accuracy.

8. Imagine if you had find a house in a city. It would be very hard to do it if the only description you had was “red door.” It would be much easier if there is a pincode, matched to a map. Similarly, by discovering those parts of the COVID-19 virus that are extremely unique to the virus, the tests to detect COVID-19 can become more accurate and cheaper, since the test can be limited to just that specific part, without any extra tests. This is, broadly, what the IIT-Delhi team has discovered.

“The primer targets unique regions where there is a spike in the COVID-19 protein. It was designed and tested using real-time polymerase chain reaction, a method for detecting small changes in the DNA. The sensitivity of this in-house kit is comparable to that of commercial ones,” said a lead researcher.

9. Using comparative sequence analyses, a method for aiding human gene identifying and inferring functions of a gene’s product, the IIT Delhi team identified unique regions (short stretches of RNA sequences) in the COVID-19 and SARS COV-2 genome.“These unique regions are not present in other human viruses providing an opportunity to specifically detect COVID-19,” said Professor Vivekanandan Perumal, during the launch.

10. During the launch, Human Resource Development minister Ramesh Pokhriyal claimed that ‘Corosure’ is the World’s most affordable COVID-testing kit.

(Edited by Gayatri Mishra)

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