CSIR-Centre for Cellular and Molecular Biology (CCMB) and the Apollo Hospitals have joined hands for joint manufacturing and commercialisation of an innovative dry swab test, Direct Amplification rapid RT-PCR (DArRT-PCR) - for rapid, safe, and cost-effective SARS-CoV-2 detection. While the test has been developed by CSIR-CCMB, Apollo will focus on scaling up manufacturing and commercialisation of the tests. It will be available nationally through the Apollo Hospitals network.
In this, the sample collection centers can send dry nasal or oropharyngeal swabs to testing centers with no need for the imported and expensive Viral Transport Medium (VTM), a key component in currently used RT-PCR tests. The biological sample can be directly isolated from the patient swabs, and tested using a one-step protocol. The current gold-standard method, on the contrary, requires many expensive reagents and steps that add to the expertise, money, and time required for the tests. The DArRT-PCR test reduces the time and human effort by 40-50 per cent in the current setting of testing, said a company release.
"Cheaper, rapid, and easy to use tests as these are the need of the hour. With Apollo and its vast network of hospitals and health services, we are positive about impacting many lives towards better health," said Dr Rakesh Mishra, Director, CSIR-CCMB.
"With nearly half of all COVID-19 infections transmitted by people who are asymptomatic, these easy and quick tests will go a long way in facilitating the identification of infected individuals who may be asymptomatic or pre-symptomatic," said Dr Sangita Reddy, Joint Managing Director, Apollo Hospitals Group. As India continues to unlock, easy availability of cost-effective, reliable testing for COVID-19 is the key to getting back to normal, she said.