Published: 15th July 2020
IIT Delhi's 'probe-free' COVID-19 diagnostic kit will help India test 20 lakh people a day
The current testing methods available are probe-based, while the one developed by IIT Delhi is a probe-free method, which reduces the testing cost while not hampering the accuracy
Union Human Resource Development Minister Ramesh Pokhriyal along with Minister of State for HRD Sanjay Dhotre e-launched on Wednesday the world's most affordable probe free RT-PCR based COVID-19 diagnostic kit, COROSURE, developed in the labs of IIT Delhi. The test kit is being manufactured by Newtech Medical Devices, Faridabad and will be marketed by Jakan Impex, New Delhi. Pokhriyal stated during the webcast that with this diagnostic kit, the capacity of testing will likely go up to 20 lakh per day, which is currently at 3 lakh a day, according to latest numbers published by Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR).
The IIT Delhi team from the Kusuma School of Biological Sciences which developed the kit consisted of PhD scholars Prashant Pradhan and Ashutosh Pandey, post-doctoral researchers Dr Sonam Dhamija, Dr Parul Gupta, Dr Akhilesh Mishra, and faculty members Professor Vivekanandan Perumal, Manoj B Menon, Bishwajit Kundu and James Gomes. 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. Using comparative sequence analyses, the IIT Delhi team identified unique regions (short stretches of RNA sequences) in the COVID-19 and SARS COV-2 genome.
HRD Minister Pokhriyal said that this innovation is in line with Prime Minister Narendra Modi's vision to create an Aatmanirbhar Bharat. "Modiji had said 'Technology is helping many in the effort to make the world free from COVID-19. I salute all those at the forefront of research & innovation on ways to defeat Coronavirus. May we keep harnessing technology in order to create a healthier & better planet.' IIT Delhi accepted this challenge given by the PM and made it happen. The testing kit is an extremely important innovation in fighting against the deadly virus. When the leadership is correct, the country moves towards development and currently, India is emerging as a major superpower," Pokhriyal said during the webcast.
He also congratulated the IIT Delhi Director V Ramgopal Rao for his dedication and leadership in encouraging its students and faculty to come up with such an innovative solution for COVID-19. He also emphasised the importance of blood donation at a time of crisis like this when plasma seems to be one of the most important components of fighting the virus, he added, "We should encourage institutes and organisations, across the country to conduct blood donation drives every month or at least every three months, whichever is currently suitable."
The Minister of State for HRD Sanjay Dhotre, who was also a part of the e-launch, also congratulated the IIT Delhi team. "Researchers all across the country have been working day and night to contribute towards developing newer innovations and solutions to fight the virus. Innovations by our own IITs and other educational institutes like PPEs, ventilators, masks and more have only made our paths clear towards creating an Aatmanirbhar Bharat. Testing has been a major challenge and this technology is groundbreaking. IITs are the hub of technology and engineering, we hope they come up with more such helpful innovations," he said.