A new, less painful and affordable COVID-19 test has just been approved by the Drugs Controller General of India (DCGI).
The test called ‘Feluda’ is supposedly a more accurate and quicker paper-based test strip meant to detect COVID-19 infection in a person in around 45 minutes.
The DCGI has now given their approval for a commercial launch of this test and is certainly coming in a time when India is seeing a constant rise in coronavirus cases and almost 10 lakh tests are being done on a daily basis.
The announcement of this launch was made by the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) on Saturday and is said to be able to achieve high levels of accuracy and is inexpensive.
What Is The Feluda Test?
The ‘Feluda’ test is a paper-based test strip developed by a research team led by Debojyoti Chakraborty and Souvik Maiti of the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) and Tata Group.
Apart from Feluda, it is also called the Tata CRISPR (Clustered Regularly Interspaced Short Palindromic Repeats) test and reportedly uses the CRISPR technology developed in India itself, to detect and target the genomic sequence of SARS-CoV-2 virus.
Instead of taking a few hours to even a day or two, as now common RT-PCR tests do to give results, the Tata CRISPR test is said to give results in 30-45 minutes, is not as expensive as current COVID-19 tests and is easier to use.
The CSIR statement said that “The Tata CRISPR (Clustered Regularly Interspaced Short Palindromic Repeats) test, powered by CSIR-IGIB (Institute of Genomics and Integrative Biology) FELUDA, has met high quality benchmarks, with 96 per cent sensitivity and 98 per cent specificity for detecting novel coronavirus.”
This test also uses a specially adapted protein called the Cas9 protein in order to detect SARS-CoV2 with a better success rate. CRISPR tests, on the other hand, are using CAS12 and CAS13 proteins to detect the virus.
What Does Its Name Mean?
The actual name of the test, Feluda, is an acronym for FNCAS9 Editor Linked Uniform Detection Assay.
The name ‘Feluda’ though has also been given as a tribute to noted writer and filmmaker from West Bengal, Satyajit Ray. Feluda is the name of a fictional private detective created by Ray.
CSIR Director-General Dr Shekhar Mande explained the meaning behind the name, “What we develop paper-based test there also been developed some part of the world and one of the groups have given name Sherlock so we thought Sherlock is another fictitious character so we thought Feluda would actually match that. Feluda is an Indian name Satyajit Rays very showcase name so we thought we give Feluda name to this test strip.”
Cost Of The Test
The best part about this test is how cost-effective it is, unlike the RT-PCR tests.
Where any COVID-19 test currently is priced in the range of Rs. 1,000 to Rs. 3,000 and an RT-PCR test can cost between Rs. 1,600 to Rs. 2,000, the estimated price of the Feluda test is said to be around Rs. 500 or Rs. 600 only.
Since the test “will not require any specialised skills and machines,” as said by Dr. Mande, this helps to reduce the cost of the test quite a bit.
Apart from this, antibody tests that can give results in 20-30 minutes also cost around Rs. 500 to Rs. 600, with antigen tests also priced in the same range.
The TruNat test kit is priced around Rs. 1,300 and it gives results in an hour.
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