Coronavirus: What is FELUDA test? India’s First Paper-Strip Covid Test made by TATA Group

New Delhi: An accurate and low-cost paper-based test strip to detect Covid-19 in less than 30 minutes has been approved for commercial launch by the Drugs Controller General of India (DCGI).

FELUDA, The test is developed by the Tata Group and CSIR-IGIB (Institute of Genomics and Integrative Biology). This is said to be India’s first Clustered Regularly Interspaced Short Palindromic Repeats (CRISPR) coronavirus test.

What is FELUDA?

Feluda, the acronym for FNCAS9 Editor Linked Uniform Detection Assay, uses indigenously developed CRISPR gene-editing technology to identify and target the genetic material of SARS-CoV2, the virus that causes Covid-19.

“The Tata CRISPR (Clustered Regularly Interspaced Short Palindromic Repeats) test, powered by CSIR-IGIB (Institute of Genomics and Integrative Biology) FELUDA, has met high quality benchmarks, with 96 per cent sensitivity and 98 per cent specificity for detecting novel coronavirus,” a CSIR statement said. Moreover, ‘Feluda’ is also the world’s first diagnostic test to deploy a specially adapted Cas9 protein to successfully detect the virus.

How does it work? 

The Feluda COVID-19 test mainly uses an indigenously-developed CRISPR technology for the detection of the genomic sequence of the SARS-CoV-2 virus. However, CRISPR prominently is a genome editing tech for the diagnosis of diseases. The Feluda test is similar to a pregnancy test strip that will just change colour upon detection of the virus and can be used in a simple pathological lab.

What is the cost of Feluda test? How does it compare with other tests?

The ‘Feluda’ test costs just about Rs 500 while the RT-PCR test now costs anywhere between Rs 1,600 to Rs 2,000. Antibody tests, which can give results in 20-30 minutes, costs between Rs 500 and Rs 600. Meanwhile, a rapid antigen test kit, which interprets a positive or negative test in 30 minutes, costs Rs 450. TruNat test provides results within 60 minutes and a kit comes for about Rs 1,300.

In March, only RT-PCR testing centres were available. Later, cartridge-based tests were approved by ICMR like TrueNat, CBNAAT, Abbott and Roche. In the month of June, rapid antigen kits were approved for testing.

Nearly 6.50 crore Covid-19 samples have been tested in India, according to the Indian Council of Medical Research.


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