BBC: A team of Indian scientists has developed an inexpensive paper test for the coronavirus that could give rapid results similar to a pregnancy test.
The test, named after a famous Indian fictional sleuth, is based on a gene-editing technology called Crispr. Scientists estimate that the kit – called Feluda – would give results in less than an hour and cost INR 500 (around $ 6.75; £ 5.25). Feluda will be manufactured by a leading Indian conglomerate, Tata, and could be the world’s first paper-based COVID-19 test available in the market.
|New Feluda test uses gene-editing technology to detect virus|
“This is a simple, accurate, reliable, scalable and frugal test,” Professor K. Vijay Raghavan, senior science adviser to the Indian government, told the BBC.
Researchers from the Delhi-based CSIR-Institute of Genomics and Integrative Biology (IGIB), where Feluda was developed, along with private labs, tested the test on samples from around 2,000 patients, including those who had previously been tested positive for the coronavirus. .
They found that the new test had a sensitivity of 96% and a specificity of 98%. The accuracy of a test is based on these two proportions. A highly sensitive test will detect almost everyone with the disease, and a highly specific test will correctly eliminate almost everyone who does not have the disease. The first guarantees not too many false negatives and the second not too many false positives. India’s drug regulator has cleared the test for commercial use.
With more than six million confirmed infections, India has the second highest number of COVID-19 cases in the world. To date, more than 100,000 people in the country have died from the disease.
“The new test has the reliability of PCR testing, is faster and can be performed in smaller laboratories, which do not have sophisticated machinery,” Dr Anurag Agarwal, director of IGIB, told the BBC. The sample collection for the Feluda test will be similar to the PCR test – a nasal swab inserted a few inches into the nose to look for coronavirus behind the nasal passage.