New technology for COVID-19 rapid testing developed by IIT Kharagpur, to cost just Rs 400

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Updated: Jul 25, 2020 4:56 PM

Researchers at Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Kharagpur on Saturday have introduced a novel portable rapid diagnostic device that will help to detect Coronavirus infection.

The procedure takes around 60 minutes to run a test.   Image: ANI

Researchers at Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Kharagpur on Saturday have introduced a novel portable rapid diagnostic device that will help to detect Coronavirus infection. The device is expected to reduce the cost of Coronavirus testing which can be afforded by many people across the country. According to IIT Kharagpur, the cost of the test is pegged at Rs 400 and the entire test can be conducted in quite a low-cost portable enclosure too when compared to specialised laboratory equipment.

The researchers have claimed that one portable unit can be utilised for a large number of tests and unlikely to produce any false result. Its accuracy and sensitivity have been placed at par with the standard RT-PCR tests (which are considered to be the most accurate way to detect the COVID-19 infection).

What is this new technology?

Conceptualised by Professor Suman Chakraborty from the Mechanical Engineering Department, and Dr Arindam Mondal from the School of Bio Science, IIT Kharagpur, the technology is a portable detection test for COVID-19 which is rapid and non-invasive. While using it, a disposable simple paper-strip is deployed which is then used for chemical analysis as well as visualisation of results. According to a report by Express Health, the device can be used in an uncontrolled environment and does not even require good resources. The device can also be operated by people who are minimally-trained.

The procedure takes around 60 minutes to run a test. Currently, IIT Kharagpur is producing some test kits but the patent licensing is required for facilitating a commercialised opportunity for medical technology companies.

Further, it can be noted that the equipment developed by researchers has a cost of about Rs 2,000 considering if a pilot facility is used. If a large-scale commercial facility is used, the cost will further reduce as the production increases. This is a significant dip in cost when compared to the RT PCR machines which cost Rs 15 lakh.

Meanwhile in India, the number of Coronavirus cases have crossed 13 lakh and cases are on surge everyday. A means of testing like this new technology could ramp up the testing procedure when done along with the RT-PCR and rapid antigen tests.

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