India bakes gamechanger paper-based COVID-19 tests called ‘Feluda’

India bakes gamechanger paper-based COVID-19 tests called 'Feluda' - We The World
Photo by Ibrahim Boran on Unsplash

A paper-based COVID-19 test kit is under development in India, which uses “third wave” virus sampling technology to efficiently detect the trace of the virus.

Named after the legendary Indian fictional detective character Feluda by ace director Satyajit Ray, the Crispr-based tests will deliver a result within 90 minutes, a metaphor to the detective’s penchant to unravel the hardest of crimes, the BBC reported.

Two blue-lines would show positive, and one blue line would mean negative.

The paper-based tests that use gene-editing technology to detect the virus will be made by Tata and could become the world’s first COVID-19 paper-based test since it has been approved by the Government for commercial use.

One Feluda test could cost upto Rs.500 (about $6.75; £5.25).

According to the report, the Feluda has been tested in Delhi-based CSIR-Institute of Genomics and Integrative Biology (IGIB) on 2000 people, including them who’ve tested COVID-19 already.

Professor K. Vijay Raghavan, the principal scientific adviser to the Indian government, told the BBC that these tests are scaleable, simple, frugal, reliable, and precise.

Lab tests found Feluda had 96% sensitivity and 98% specificity — two imperative factors to rule out who has the virus (sensitivity), and who don’t (specificity).

Lead researchers behind the product are chasing after a technology that enables more patients to test the virus at home affordably without being hindered by the need for machinery and manpower that is needed for other mainstream tests.

India, which recently six-times exceeded the WHO-recommended mark of testing its population for COVID-19 has had a rough start, in the beginning, Indian media reported.

India is currently testing 828 tests per day per million, while the WHO-advised numbers are 140 tests-per-day, per-million, making India’s current rate of testing nearly six-times the stipulated advise.

As of technologies used to test the millions in the nation of 1.3 billion population, India principally uses two methods – first, the largely reliable gold-standard polymerase chain reaction, or PCR swab tests, and the second is the fast antigen test.

Both the two types of tests have their merit and demerit and their reliability is more-than-ever put to test under such a stressful and demanding medical crisis of the Century.

“(…) we are doing a lot of rapid antigen testing which have problems with false negatives,” Dr. Bhan told the BBC.

But the Crisper-based (short form for Clustered Regularly Interspaced Short Palindromic Repeats) Feluda has the added advantage of the reliability of the swab tests and the swiftness of the Antigen, experts noted.

Feluda comes at a time when pandemic has already spawned 35,414,612 confirmed cases and has taken nearly 1.5 million lives around the world, Johns Hopkins COVID-19 data shows.

Not too long age, the WHO, in collaboration with private firms and governments, unveiled it will make hundreds of thousands of cheap and effective COVID-19 testing kits will be made available to lower and middle-income nations alongside partners of the Access to Covid tools initiative (ACT accelerator), We The World earlier reported.

Many first-world countries are testing and developing a paper-based COVID-19 rapid testing kit which is reliable and pocket-friendly. Many nations are amid an upsurge of new cases.

“If their (the Crisper-based paper tests’) efficacy is demonstrated, it can have benefits that ripple around the world,” Dr. Stephen Kissler, a research fellow at Harvard Medical School was quoted as saying.

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