Assam: ICMR-RMRC Dibrugarh developed kit to detect Covid19 Omicron variant in 2 hours


A team from the ICMR-RMRC Dibrugarh in Lahowal, Assam, has developed a kit that allows for the detection of Omicron variants in under two hours. Senior Scientist Dr Biswajit Borkakoty leads the ICMR-RMRC Dibrugarh team.

“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, Senior Scientist, Regional Medical Research Centre, Indian Council of Medical Research (RMRC- ICMR), Dibrugarh.

This is important because as of now, a minimum of 36 hours is required for targeted sequencing and 4-5 days for the whole genome sequencing to detect the variant.

“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,” he said.

The tests have been proven to be 100 percent accurate by internal validation. In PPP mode, a 100 percent made in India Kolkata-based biotech company GCC biotech is synthesising the kit in bulk based on ICMR-RMRC Dibrugarh’s design.

The presence of Omicron in various Indian states has become a serious concern for authorities, who are hoping for a quick detection of the variant.

The number of cases of Omicron, which the WHO has classified as a ‘variant of concern’ after being discovered in Africa last month, is growing by the day in India.

However, at this time, the time spent in the detection process is a source of concern. It has been observed that detecting Omicron from samples collected with the aid of currently available kits takes 3-4 days.

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