The Indian Council of Medical Research has approved the use of CSIR institute’s dry swab RT-PCR test. The test, developed by the Centre for Cellular & Molecular Biology (CCMB), is expected to scale up testing by two to three-fold immediately with no additional resources.
CCMB has also offered to train healthcare workers in handling the dry swab RT-PCR testing method and provide necessary technical know-how. It has been testing samples since April 2020.
What is Dry Swab RT-PCR test?
Dry swab RT-PCR test or DArRT-PCR test is a simple variation of the existing gold standard RT-PCR test conducted to detect covid infection. According to the institute, this CSIR-CCMB is a dry swab RNA-extraction-free testing method.
Difference between a normal RT-PCR and DArRT-PCR:
Dry Swab RT-PCR method collects and transports the nasal swab in a dry state, contrary to using a viral transport medium (VTM) in a normal RT-PCR test. Two steps of the RT-PCR test, collection of swaps in VTM and RNA isolation are eliminated in the dry swab testing method.
What happens in a dry swab test is that the swab is collected and transported dry to the testing centre, a simple buffer is added to the swab, processed, and used for the RT-PCR test.
Benefits of DArRT-PCR:
-Since the test is a dry one, it makes the transportation and handling of the sample easy and less prone to spillage and spread of infection.
-The test will meet the growing demand for testing and take off some burden from RT-PCR as the number of covid cases continues to surge.
-As there is no need for RNA isolation, as compared to conventional RT-PCR test, time, cost, and trained manpower is saved.
-With no additional cost and investment, testing can be scaled up at least 2 to 3 times immediately.
-The dry swab test can give results in about 3 hours compared to 24 to 48 hours on a conventional RT-PCR test.
Dr. Rakesh K Mishra, Director, CSIR-CCMB has said that the test is cheaper, faster, and safer for the health care workers. The kits are in the process to be released by Apollo Hospitals and Meril Life Pvt Ltd. About 50,000 tests have already been conducted using the dry swab method.