A team of ICMR-RMRC Dibrugarh located at Lahowal in Assam has prepared a kit that enables detection of Omicron variant within 2 hours.

The team of ICMR-RMRC Dibrugarh has been led by Senior Scientist Dr Biswajit Borkakoty.

“ICMR-RMRC Dibrugarh has designed and developed a hydrolysis probe-based real-time RT-PCR assay for detection of the new Omicron variant (B.1.1.529) SARS-CoV-2 (COVID-19) that can detect the new variant within 2 hours,” said Dr Biswajit Borkakoty, Senior Scientist, Regional Medical Research Centre, Indian Council of Medical Research (RMRC- ICMR), Dibrugarh.

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This is important because as of now, a minimum of 36 hours is required for targeted sequencing and 4-5 days for the whole genome sequencing to detect the variant.

“The kit is tested against specific synthetic gene fragments of Omicron variant of SARS-CoV-2 within two different highly specific unique regions of the spike protein and also reference wild type control synthetic gene fragments,” he said.

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Internal validation has shown that the tests are 100% accurate.

The kit is being synthesized in bulk based on ICMR-RMRC Dibrugarh’s design by a 100% make in India Kolkata-based biotech company GCC biotech in PPP mode.

With Omicron making its presence felt in various states in India, it has become a serious concern for the authorities for quick detection of the variant.

The number of cases of Omicron, classified as a ‘variant of concern’ by the WHO after it was detected in Africa last month, is increasing day by day in India.

But the concern at this moment is the time taken in the detection process.

It has been seen that 3-4 days time is taken to detect Omicron from the samples collected with the help of the kits available presently.

Avik Chakraborty

Avik Chakraborty is Northeast Now Correspondent in Dibrugarh. He can be reached at: babs8oct@gmail.com