A team of Indian scientists have developed a fast and cheap paper-based COVID-19 test. This new test is based on gene-editing technology called CRISPR and is set to roll out across the country before the end of 2020.
The locally developed COVID-19 test Feluda, named after Satyajit Ray's popular detective is likely to cost around Rs 500 ($6.80). The Feluda test for COVID-19 provides results within an hour and is similar to a home pregnancy test.
"This test doesn't require any sophisticated equipment or highly trained manpower," co-creator Souvik Maiti, a scientist at CSIR-Institute of Genomics and Integrative Biology, New Delhi, said.
"There are lots of remote parts of India where you do not have any sophisticated laboratories... (The test) will be much easier to deploy; it will have much more penetration," added Maiti.
India currently diagnoses COVID-19 with either RT-PCR tests, which are highly accurate but require advanced laboratory machines, or antigen tests, that can give results in a few minutes at a limited cost but with significantly lower accuracy.
Feluda, which claims to combine the accuracy of the PCR test with the accessibility of the antigen kits, uses the gene-editing technique CRISPR-Cas9 that had recently earned inventors Emmanuelle Charpentier and Jennifer Doudna the Nobel Prize.
Feluda has also been granted government regulatory approval and Health Minister Harsh Vardhan had said that it could be rolled out in the next few weeks by Tata Group.
India has recorded more than 7.5 million COVID-19 infections and is second only to the United States.