Published: 21st April 2021
IIT KGP's COVIRAP testing device can detect COVID within 45 mins using a free app on your phone and a handheld device
COVIRAP is a step-wise isothermal nucleic acid testing technology for the rapid diagnostics of pathogenic infections including the Coronavirus
Indian Institute of Technology Kharagpur (IIT KGP) on Wednesday commercially launched COVIRAP, the diagnostic machine developed by its researchers, which had been validated for its efficacy in COVID-19 detection by the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) in October last year. IIT KGP launched the device during an online event that also included representatives from the companies Rapid Diagnostics Group of Companies, New Delhi and Bramerton Holdings, USA, who have partnered with the institute for commercialisation across the country and globally.
COVIRAP's commercial version is a handheld device in which the swab collected can be either nasal or saliva. It has to be loaded and then the device will take its own course, no manual intervention is required. Your smartphone can also be integrated with the help of a free mobile application that is capable of producing test results within a span of just 45 minutes. The device is a swab-to-result solution and currently does not weigh more than 300 gms, so four patient samples can run simultaneously and it has two units — a thermal unit and a detection unit. The device facilitates a generic step-wise isothermal nucleic acid-based testing technology for the rapid diagnostics of pathogenic infections including but not limited to the Coronavirus in individuals.
Professor Suman Chakraborty, Dean, Sponsored Research and Industrial Consultancy, Mechanical Engineering, IIT KGP said the team of researchers started with the prototypes of COVIRAP in April last year. "Around June-July we came up with the first prototype and the lab environment was giving promising results. Following that, it was subject to rigorous validation of the ICMR. Typically, the outcome of such research which has been validated gets disseminated through publications, but we didn't want to stop there. We wanted to come to a stage where it becomes a commercial entity and then gradually become a household commodity at some point or the other — low cost and easy to use. Currently, it will come to the market, we have already initiated the various procedures for commercialisation," he added.
Professor VK Tewari, Director, IIT KGP congratulated the researchers and added that the certification to COVIRAP was given after a lot of trials and on the advice of ICMR. "Around 200 samples were compared and on the basis of that, they detected the efficacy. IIT KGP researchers then came up with an easily transportable and commercial model. The two companies who signed a deal to sell commercially can modify them as per requirements," he added.
"We serve more than 30,000 laboratories and have a 600 people-strong team working on the ground. We will take COVIRAP to the semi-urban and rural areas, manufacture the device and kits in Delhi and take them to the masses. We have been waiting for this kind of a device with which more people can be tested and we can save lives in time," said Subir Dey from Rapid Diagnostics Group of Companies. Brian Kinane, a representative from Bramerton Holdings, USA added they are delighted to commercialise this product. "We would like to democratise this test and empower local communities globally," he said.