NEERI develops new Covid-19 RT-PCR test can give result in 3 hours


NEERI scientist expect this testing technique to be beneficial for rural and tribal areas where infrastructure requirements are a constraint and trained lab technicians were not available.

The National Environmental Engineering Research Institute (NEERI) has developed a Saline Gargle RT-PCR Covid-19 testing method that does away with swabs and offers results in three hours.

The Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) has approved the new testing method last week and asked NEERI to train lab technicians and scale up its adoption across the country.

Krishna Khairnar, senior scientist, environmental virology cell with the Nagpur-based NEERI, said this test was suited for rural and tribal areas as it had minimal infrastructure requirements.

NEERI scientist expect this testing technique to be beneficial for rural and tribal areas where infrastructure requirements are a constraint and trained lab technicians were not available.

The Saline Gargle RT-PCR method is instant, comfortable and patient-friendly. The sampling can be done by the patient and results generated within three hours, Khairnar said. This method of collecting and processing the sample saves costs and does away with the RNA extraction infrastructure requirement, he said.

“Collection methods like nasopharyngeal and oropharyngeal swab collection require technical expertise. They are also time-consuming. In contrast, the Saline Gargle RT-PCR method uses a simple collection tube filled with saline solution. The patient gargles the solution and rinses it inside the tube. This sample in the collection tube is taken to the laboratory where it is kept at room temperature, in a special buffer solution prepared by NEERI. An RNA template is produced when this solution is heated, which is further processed for RT-PCR,” Khiarnar said.

The Nagpur Municipal Corporation has already given permission to go ahead with this testing method amid surging Covid-19 infections in the Vidarbha region of Maharashtra.

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