The Resident Doctors Association of the AIIMS on Sunday wrote to Union health minister Harsh Vardhan urging him to implement the gargle lavage method in detection of COVID-19 and also give due credit to researchers of the hospital and THSTI for this diagnosis.
Earlier this week, the Nagpur-based National Environmental Engineering Research Institute (NEERI) under the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) announced the development of an "Innovative patient-friendly saline gargle RT-PCR testing method".
"However, this is not the first time that someone has looked into this account. A research paper published last year by a team of doctors at the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AllMS), Delhi, and research scientists at Translational Health Science and Technology Institute (THSTI), Faridabad had already validated gargle lavage as a viable alternative to traditional swab testing," AIIMS RDA President Amandeep Singh said in the letter.
He said the researchers of the AIIMS and the THSTI had the first insights to collect samples for COVID-19 diagnosis in the form of gargled-saline water. The THSTI is an institute under the Department of Biotechnology.
"Even though CSIR-NEERI scientists' effort is commendable as it makes testing more cost-effective their work is yet to be published. At the same time, it is pretty discouraging for young researchers and resident doctors of the AIIMS, New Delhi that their work went unnoticed," Singh said.
Earlier, adaptation by the ICMR could have saved a lot of resources, money, and workforce, he stressed. "We would request the implementation of the gargle-lavage method for COVID-19 diagnosis the earliest and due acknowledgment of the young researchers from the AIIMS and the THSTI. They already developed this technique a year ago," he added.
In June last year, the team presented the research to top officials at the Indian Council for Medical Research (ICMR) headquarter here, Singh said. Based on the inputs, the same group of researchers embarked upon another study to evaluate the stability of viral genetic material in normal saline for extended periods; the AIIMS had submitted a follow-up research paper in October 2020.
The paper has already accepted for publication in April, he added.
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