CSIR-CCMB and Apollo Hospitals Announce Successful Collaboration for Development of Rapid, Safe and Cost-effective COVID-19 Testing Kits

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CSIR-CCMB and the Apollo Hospitals Enterprise Ltd. on 10 December 2020 announced a collaboration for joint manufacturing and commercialisation of an innovative dry swab test, Direct Amplification rapid RT-PCR (DArRT-PCR) for SARS-CoV-2 detection. The test has been developed by CSIR-CCMB and the collaboration with Apollo Hospitals will focus on scaling up manufacturing and commercialisation of the tests jointly.

The rapid, safe and cost-effective DArRT-PCR tests will be available nationally through the Apollo Hospitals network. The sample collection centres can send dry nasal or oropharyngeal swabs to testing centres with no need for the imported and expensive Viral Transport Medium. The biological sample can be directly isolated from the patient swabs and testing can be done 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% in the current setting of testing. Dr Rakesh Mishra, Director, CSIR-CCMB, applauded this collaboration and said, “As people are getting back to their normal lives and businesses, it is important for us to ramp up our testing for the coronavirus. The virus will be here for some time, it seems, and those who test more frequently will be able to contain the impact of COVID-19 better. Cheaper, rapid, accurate and easy to use tests as these are the need of the hour.”

Dr Sangita Reddy, Joint Managing Director, Apollo Hospitals Group said, “We are glad to collaborate with CSIR-CCMB in this path-breaking initiative of a more rapid, easy to use and accurate testing option and work to make it available nationwide. As India continues to unlock, easy availability of cost-effective, reliable testing for COVID-19 is the key to getting back to normal. Widespread testing will enable quick identification, immediate isolation and early treatment to prevent spread. 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 presymptomatic. These tests will give a boost to the efforts to mitigate the effect of COVID-19 and will play a major role in controlling the pandemic.”