Hyderabad: The city-based Centre for Cellular and Molecular Biology (CCMB) has secured approval for its dry swab technique to collect samples for the RT-PCR test Covid-19. This procedure is expected to bring down the testing cost by 50 per cent and make it more widely available.
The technique, approved by the ICMR, involves taking nasal swabs in a dry state and putting them in a tube which can be sent for RT-PCR testing.
Currently, the samples are collected in a liquid called Viral Transport Medium. This requires proper packaging. Despite that, events of spillage, leakage and damage have been noted.
Dry Swab-Direct RT-PCR ensures there is no spillage and fear of spread of infection. It has been found that the overall concordance is 96.9 per cent and it is low cost and there is a quick turnaround time.
From April 2020, CCMB has been testing Coronavirus samples and this was a major concern as healthcare workers and laboratory technicians were working with liquids that could spill. With dry collection, the tubes can be directly put in the kit and tested. This will save time and result in quicker results.
CSIR Director General Dr Shekar C. Mande said the technique can be done in existing kits and with the available manpower. “It will help us ramp up the testing capacity in the country quickly," he said.
Multiple premier institutes and hospitals have been a part of this project like Apollo Hospitals in Hyderabad, Centre for DNA Fingerprinting and Diagnosis, IISER-Berhampur, CSIR-NEERI, GMCH-Nagpur, and Genepath based in Pune and others.
Dr Rakesh Mishra, director of CCMB, said, “The technology has been developed at CCMB and we are negotiating with private players for the production. This technique will be similar to the present techniques employed in laboratories where the samples are collected in dry tubes for testing for other diseases."
The modified method has also been published in peer review and other scientific journals in the world.