“Feluda”, fastest and Cheapest coronavirus test kit launched in Delhi today

The Feluda paper strip test to diagnose Coronavirus disease (Covid-19) based on the gene-editing technology CRISPR will be launched in Delhi on Thursday by the Tata group in collaboration with the Apollo group of hospitals, people familiar with the matter said on Wednesday.

Earlier this month, Tata Medical and Diagnostics Ltd (TataMD) announced that the paper-strip kit would be marketed as “TataMD’s CHECK”.

The test is likely to be cheaper than the current gold standard RT-PCR and equally accurate, helping in scaling up Covid-19 testing as it would need a machine that is widely available with laboratories and science institutions.

‘FELUDA’ is an acronym for FNCAS9 Editor Linked Uniform Detection Assay. The paper-strip test is the world’s first diagnostic test to use a specially-adapted Cas9 protein to seek out the SARS-CoV-2 virus. Because of its high specificity and accuracy, the Feluda paper strip is far superior and way more accurate than the rapid antigen test, and almost as quick in returning results.

Priced at Rs 500 per test, the paper-strip can return results in 45 minutes. It can also differentiate SARS-CoV-2 from other coronavirus es even if genetic variations between them are very minute.

The new kit has a high sensitivity of 96% and specificity of 98%, meaning it can accurately detect both positive and negative cases. It was approved for use by the Indian Council of Medical Research in September. A team of researchers from the Institute of Genomics and Integrative Biology named the test Feluda after the eponymous Bengali fictional detective.

The paper-strip test was given approved for use by the Indian Council of Medical Research in September. It has been positioned as a cheaper, faster and simpler alternative to an RT-PCR diagnosis, which, in India, is riddled with inaccuracies due to sample collection and human error.

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