Home >News >India >Rollout of the faster, cheaper Feluda Covid-19 test expected in few weeks, says Vardhan
Union Health Minister Dr Harsh Vardhan
Union Health Minister Dr Harsh Vardhan

Rollout of the faster, cheaper Feluda Covid-19 test expected in few weeks, says Vardhan

  • 'Based on tests in over 2,000 patients during trials, the test showed 96% sensitivity and 98% specificity,' says Union Health Minister
  • Similar to a pregnancy strip test, Feluda changes colour if the virus is detected and doesn’t need expensive machines for detection

New Delhi: Union Health Minister Dr Harsh Vardhan on Sunday said the rollout of the Feluda Covid-19 test will happen in the near future.

Vardhan made the announcement while responding to a volley of questions fielded by his social media interactors on the fifth episode of Sunday Samvaad.

"Based on tests in over 2,000 patients during the trials at the Institute of Genomics and Integrative Biology (IGIB) and on testing in private labs, the test showed 96% sensitivity and 98% specificity. This compares favourably to ICMR’s current acceptation criteria of RT-PCR Kit of at least 95% sensitivity and at least 99% specificity," Vardhan said.

Sensitivity is defined as the ability of a test to correctly identify individuals with the disease, while specificity is the ability of the assay to accurately identify those without the disease.

He added that the Feluda paper strip test for SRS-CoV-2 diagnosis has been developed by CSIR-IGIB and has been approved by the Drug Controller General of India for a commercial launch. The kit has already been validated by the Department of Atomic Energy’s National Centre for Biological Sciences, Bangalore. “While I cannot put an exact date on the availability, we should expect this test within the next few weeks," he said.

Named after Satyajit Ray’s famed detective, the Feluda test, which is priced at 500 and can deliver a result in 45 minutes, is able to differentiate SARS-CoV-2 from other coronaviruses even if genetic variations between them are minute.

The Clustered Regularly Interspaced Short Palindromic Repeats (CRISPR) Feluda test has been developed by the New Delhi-based CSIR-Institute of Genomics and Integrative Biology (IGIB) and the TATA Group.

Similar to a pregnancy strip test, Feluda changes colour if the virus is detected and doesn’t need expensive machines for detection.

Virologist Upasana Ray told PTI that the CRISPR- based COVID-19 detection system is a cheaper option to RT-PCR tests, which cost over 1,600. RAT and Feluda are in the same price bracket.

FELUDA, an acronym for the FNCAS9 Editor-Limited Uniform Detection Assay, uses an indigenously developed, cutting-edge CRISPR technology for detection of the genomic sequence of SARS-CoV-2 virus, the scientists said.

CRISPR is a gene editing technology and is used in correcting genetic defects and treating and preventing the spread of diseases.

The technology can detect specific sequences of DNA within a gene, and uses an enzyme functioning as molecular scissors to snip it.

India's COVID-19 tally of cases raced past 70 lakh, 13 days after it had crossed the 60-lakh mark, while the national recovery rate stood at 86.17 per cent, according to the Union Health Ministry data updated on Sunday.

According to the ICMR, a cumulative total of 8,68,77,242 samples have been tested up to October 10 with 10,78,544 samples being tested on Saturday.

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