Amid fears of the Omicron variant in Assam, a team from the Regional Medical Research Centre, Indian Council of Medical Research (RMRC- ICMR) at Lahoal in Dibrugarh has come up with a kit that can detect the new variant, B.1.1.529, in two hours.
The team headed by senior scientist Dr. Biswajit Borkakoty has prepared a kit which enables it to detect the Omicron variant in a couple of hours from a given sample.
"The 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 two hours," Dr. Borkakoty said.
The development assumes significance given the fact that a minimum of 36 hours are required for targeted sequencing while about four to five days are required for whole-genome sequencing, which is a laboratory method used to determine the entire genetic makeup of a specific organism or cell type.
"The kit is tested against specific synthetic gene fragments of the 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.
Internal validation has shown that the tests are cent percent accurate.
Sources said the kit was being synthesized in bulk by a Kolkata-based biotech company, GCC Biotech in the public-private-partnership mode, based on ICMR-RMRC Dibrugarh's designSources said the kit was being synthesized in bulk by a Kolkata-based biotech company, GCC Biotech in the public-private-partnership mode, based on ICMR-RMRC Dibrugarh's design.
The number of cases of Omicron, classified as a 'variant of concern' by the World Health Organisation (WHO), after it was detected in Africa last month, are increasing day by day in India.
After the first two cases of Omicron in India were detected in Karnataka on December 2, the number of patients infected with the new variant of COVID-19 in the country has reportedly escalated to 38 as on December 12, 2021, with five fresh cases surfacing in Chandigarh, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Maharashtra and Kerala.
As on December 12, there has been no confirmed Omicron case in Assam. On Saturday, samples of a returnee from Qatar who tested RT-PCR positive for COVID-19 were collected and sent for genome sequencing to find out whether they match with the Omicron variant.
A few days back, eight doctors of Silchar Medical College and Hospital (SMCH) in Cachar district and four other persons with travel history to Saudi Arabia and Finland had tested positive for COVID-19. Their samples have been sent for genome sequencing and the results are awaited.
With Omicron cases on the rise in several states of India, the concern for the authorities as early detection of the variant. This area has for the time being addressed by the new kit developed by the team from ICMR-RMRC, Lahoal.