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ICMR designs testing kit to detect Omicron variant within 2 hours

Delhi, Rajasthan, Maharashtra, Karnataka, and Gujarat have reported cases of Omicron with a total number of cases going up to 33

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As India witnesses, a slow increase in COVID-19's new variant Omicron, the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) in Dibrugarh, Assam has got some good news for the country. The top medical body has designed a testing kit that will detect the new variant within two hours. 

Earlier, the test used to take 3-4 days to determine if a patient was infected with the Omicron variant or not. Currently, India has 33 cases of Omicron that are being treated in various cities of the country. 

The kit has been made by a team of scientists at the Regional Medical Research Centre (RMRC) for the Northeast region. The team was led by scientist Dr Biswajyoti Borkakoty. The kit is now being produced on a bulk basis by an Indian company based in Kolkata, GCC biotech on a public-private partnership (PPP) model.

"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. 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," said Dr Borkakoty.


He further said, "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 per cent accurate."

Currently, states including Delhi, Rajasthan, Maharashtra, Karnataka, and Gujarat have reported cases of Omicron with a total number of cases going up to 33. 

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