Researchers at IIT-Hyderabad develop low-cost test kit that can detect Covid-19 within 20 minutes


A research team of the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT), Hyderabad, has claimed to have developed a testing kit than can detect Covid-19 infection within 20 minutes.

The researchers claimed that the alternative test method is not based on the Reverse Transcription Polymerase Chain Reaction (RT-PCR) — the method currently used for Covid-19 testing, media reports said.

They said the testing would cost around Rs 550, which could get reduced to Rs 350 if produced in bulk.

The team has filed for a patent for the test kit and sent a model to ICMR for approval. The team has conducted clinical trials at ESIC Medical College and Hospital in Hyderabad and sought approval from the Indian Council for Medical Research (ICMR).

“We have developed a Covid-19 testing kit that can deliver results for symptomatic and asymptomatic patients in 20 minutes,” the team said to media.

The uniqueness of this test kit is that it functions sans the Reverse Transcription Polymerase Chain Reaction (RT-PCR),” Shiv Govind Singh, professor at IIT-Hyderabad’s Electrical Engineering department, told PTI.

“The low-cost test kit is easy to carry and tests can be done at point of care. The testing method used is an alternative to the currently used method. We identified a unique sequence of conserved regions of Covid-19 genome,” Singh, who led the three-member team, said.

IIT-Hyderabad is the second academic institution in the country after IIT-Delhi to come up with a testing kit for novel coronavirus.

IIT-Delhi has already obtained the ICMR’s approval for a real-time PCR-based diagnostic assay.

It had claimed that the current testing methods were “probe-based” while the one developed by its students was a “probe-free” method, which reduces the testing cost without compromising accuracy.