Game Changer: COVID-19 RT-PCR Testing through Gargling

CSIR-NEERI (National Environmental Engineering Research Institute), Nagpur, has developed an 'Innovative Patient-Friendly Saline Gargle RT-PCR Testing Method' for the detection of COVID-19. The methodology uses a small volume (5ml) of phosphate-buffered saline for gargling (15-second gargling followed by 15-second rinsing) to capture the COVID-19 virus in infected persons. Also, a one-step RNA extraction buffer is developed, which obliterates the need for costly RNA extraction kits. The gargle sample after collection is to be mixed with a one-step RNA extraction buffer and incubated at room temperature for 30 minutes followed by heat inactivation at 98°C for 6 minutes. This simple method gives a reasonably good RNA for RT-PCR.

The innovator of this development, Dr Krishna Khairnar a Scientist at CSIR-NEERI, Nagpur, said that the Gargle RT-PCR method for COVID-19 detection has been effectively implemented at Nagpur's COVID-19 testing  centres. The Nagpur Zila Parishad has also taken up the responsibility to implement this method in rural and tribal areas. This credits the Nagpur region as the first in the country to implement Gargle RT-PCR for COVID-19 detection in both Urban and Rural areas. 

The innovative method developed by CSIR-NEERI has also been commercialised for scaling up the product. The Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR), New Delhi, has bestowed the responsibility on CSIR-NEERI to train COVID-19 testing labs across India for the implementation of Gargle RT-PCR. 

Honourable vice president of CSIR, Shri Harsh Vardhan Ji and Honourable Minister Shri Nitin Gadkari Ji called this development a Game Changer and remarkable innovation in the interest of the public at large.