India develops new paper-based COVID-19 test, ‘Feluda’

India has developed a new paper-based COVID test kit. This would give results within an hour at the comforts of homes. It is inexpensive and easy to handle and dispose of.

TaTa, a leading Indian conglomerate, will launch this kit. The test can resemble a pregnancy test, but this might take an hour to show results. Its name is from the iconic Indian fictional detective character called Feluda, which is based on CRISPR’s gene technology.

CRISPR technique used

CRISPR, or clustered regularly interspaced short palindromic repeats, is a family of a DNA sequence. It is present in the genomes of prokaryotic organisms, such as bacteria and archaea. From correcting genetic defects to treating and preventing the spread of diseases and improving farm crops, the CRISPR technique is versatile and very useful for COVID-19 diagnosis.

Reliability

Feluda is being manufactured by India’s leading conglomerate, TaTa, and is supposed to be the wold’s first paper-based COVID-19 test for diagnosis in the market.

Professor Vijay Raghavan, the principal scientific advisor to the Indian government, said that this is a simple, precise, and reliable test.

It was found that the test had a 96% sensitivity and 98% specification, which points out its reliability and correctness. The sample tried on about 2,000 patients, including the ones who already tested positive for the virus.

Other tests in India

The RT-PCR (reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction) remains the principal testing measure for coronavirus diagnosis in India. Its use is for frontline testing. The health ministry has introduced other tests as well to ramp up testing in India. The testing now counts nearly 2.15 lakh per day.

India has introduced antibody tests, which give results in a few hours. And it checks whether the body has made COVID-19 antibodies after infection. The Indian council of medical research introduced TrueNat and CBNAAT and antigen tests after facing backlash for low testing numbers.

The RT-PCR tests remain the most prominent diagnosis test method for COVID-19 in India. The government hospitals provide the testing facility for free for all citizens. But the private labs charge from rupees 4,500 onwards for RT-PCR tests. The test can detect the presence of the virus in an asymptomatic patient. That is why it is currently the most accurate mean of diagnosis. However, the rapid antibody tests are inexpensive and conducted on a mass basis in cities in India. This is for checking how many people were infected and have recovered.

Image courtesy of Nhemz/Shutterstock

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