India’s new paper-based Covid-19 test could be a ‘game changer’

India's new paper-based Covid-19 test could be a ‘game changer’
The new Feluda test uses a gene-editing technology to detect the virus. Source: BBC
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Daily US Times: A team of Indian scientists has developed an inexpensive paper-based Covid-19 test that could give fast results similar to a pregnancy test.

The test, named after a famous Indian fictional detective, Feluda, is based on a gene-editing technology called Crispr. Scientists estimate that the kit would return results in under an hour and cost 500 rupees (about $6.75; £5.25).

Feluda will be made by a leading Indian conglomerate, Tata, and it could be the world’s first paper-based Covid-19 test available in the market.

Professor K Vijay Raghavan, principal scientific adviser to the Indian government, said: “This is a simple, precise, reliable, scalable and frugal test.”

Researchers at the Delhi-based Institute of Genomics and Integrative Biology (IGIB), where the paper-based Covid-19 test kit was developed, as well as private labs, tried out the test on samples from about 2,000 patients, including ones who had already tested positive for the coronavirus.

They found that the new test had 98% specificity and 96% sensitivity. The accuracy of a test is based on these two proportions. A test that’s has high-specificity will correctly rule out almost everyone who doesn’t have the disease and a test that’s highly sensitive will detect almost everyone who has the disease.

The second ensures not too many false negative results; and the first not too many false positives. India’s drug regulator has cleared the test for commercial use.

India has the world’s second-highest Covid-19 caseload, with more than six million confirmed infections. More than 100,000 people in India have died of the disease so far.

After a slow start, India is now testing about 100,000 samples a day in more than 1,200 laboratories across the country. It is using two tests.

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