IIT Kharagpur Launches COVIRAP COVID Test Kit, ICMR, NICED Approves Device

Durgesh Rai Durgesh Rai
Content Curator

The Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Kharagpur has launched the Covid-19 test COVIRAP which is approved by the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) and the National Institute of Cholera and Enteric Diseases (NICED). The testing kit is ready for commercial use.

COVIRAP is a cuboid-shaped portable testing device that can provide results in just an hour. This IIT Kharagpur testing kit will help to increase COVID-19 screening in peripheral and rural areas.

Dr. Mamata Chawla Sarkar, a senior scientist with ICMR-NICED who led the test validation process, said at an online press conference held in IIT Kharagpur, “We collected 200 positive and negative samples. After blind labeling, they were tested in a real-time RT-PCR machine and COVIRAP.”

Although we were initially skeptical about the outcome when we compared the test results, we found the machine to be very accurate. The temperature-controlled COVIRAP showed 94 percent sensitivity and 96 percent specificity,” she added.

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During a video conference conducted in July, Prof. Suman Chakraborty, department of mechanical engineering, IIT Kharagpur, and a team member of the testing kit project, informed that COVIRAP functions on a pre-programmed test supported into the device.

She further stated, “It has a microfluidic paper-based detection system; the color of the microfluidic paper will determine if a sample is positive or negative.”

Apart from IIT Kharagpur, IIT Delhi also launched a device known as Corosure. COVIRAP is different from Corosure in how it processes the DNA sample, according to the researchers.

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COVIRAP: How it works

The DNA of the virus is combined along with chemicals on a paper strip. The reaction will show if the DNA sample is positive or negative. The result could be checked using a mobile app as per the team. 

The testing kit could be used for group testing as it can test between three to ten samples in one go. Besides, the mutating nature of the SARS-CoV-2 virus is kept in mind while the test has been devised.

Prof V.K. Tiwari, the director, IIT Kharagpur, disclosed, “We had applied for a patent in July itself, and since it is under process, we can claim rights on this intellectual property. We are in the process of finalizing talks with several private and government companies regarding its mass production and will very soon start production.

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The COVIRAP will be much of use where the health infrastructure might be lacking because it only takes an hour to show results. The kit provides a set of instructions in Bengali and Hindi. It can be easily operated with basic pathology skills by lab technicians.

Prof Tiwari revealed that the COVIRAP initial cost was fixed at Rs 5,000, with each test costing over Rs 500. The Cost could be reduced further if the government steps in and subsidizes it. Previously, the testing kit was estimated to cost Rs 400.

During the video conference, education Minister Dr. Ramesh Pokhriyal Nishank congratulated IIT Kharagpur for its achievement. He stated, “This innovation has made high-quality and accurate COVID testing affordable for the common people with a testing cost of around Rs 500, which can further be reduced through government intervention.”

About IIT Kharagpur

Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Kharagpur was the first-ever IIT to be formed and has nationwide importance. According to the NIRF Ranking 2019, in the Engineering category, it has been ranked fourth making it one of the top engineering colleges across our country. IIT Kharagpur offers various specializations in an undergraduate, postgraduate, dual degree, and doctoral programs. 

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