The CSIR-Central Drug Research Institute (CDRI) has developed an indigenous RT-PCR diagnostic kit, called 'Om', for testing the new Omicron variant of Covid-19.
It is the first kit made by any government institution, and the third to be made indigenously, for specific testing of Omicron.
At present, two more such kits developed by private players are available in the market.
'Om' is likely to be launched in the second week of February, after it receives a nod from the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR).
Development of Om & its uses
A team of three scientists, led by senior principal scientist Atul Goel and four research scholars, have made the kit within two months. Other researchers are Dr. Niti Kumar, Dr. Ashish Arora, Surbhi Mundra, Seema Vidyarthi, Varsha Kumari, Kundan Singh Rawat, Priyanka Pandey.
The kit will cost around Rs 150 and give the test result in around two hours.
'Om' has been tested and validated by the head, microbiology department, Prof Amita Jain of the King George's Medical University.
Senior principal scientist, Atul Goel, said: "The biggest benefit of the kit would be that the patient will be aware if he or she is infected with Omicron or Delta. If one is infected by Omicron, he or she will not panic as this variant is milder than Delta."
He added that as Covid continues to mutate, diagnosis and treatment of different variants becomes difficult. Omicron, though milder in symptoms, is a super-spreader. It can be controlled if identified timely with the use of this kit.
Principal scientist, Niti Kumar, said: "Om will help in quick and cost-effective detection of Omicron as compared to genome sequencing."
He added: "This technology can be aligned for detection of other emerging variants of Covid and other respiratory infections."
CDRI director, Prof Tapas Kundu, said: "Our scientists have successfully developed INDICoV-Om for specific detection of Omicron. Ours is one of the few specific kits across the world for Omicron detection. Most of the kits do not confirm Omicron, therefore, this kit will be of great help."
(With inputs from IANS)