IIT Kharagpur’s COVIRAP diagnostic test gets ICMR nod

New Delhi (NVI): ‘COVIRAP’, a diagnostic machine developed by the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Kharagpur researchers, has been successfully validated for its efficacy in Covid-19 detection by the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR).

COVIRAP is a cuboid-shaped portable testing device that can deliver results in an hour, making it an effective tool to scale up Covid-19 screening in peripheral and rural areas.

After rigorous testing with patient samples by an authorized ICMR laboratory, adhering to their strict guidelines, ICMR has now granted certification for this Covid-19 Diagnostic Test.

This test has been designed to be fairly easy to conduct and affordable as well.

This new testing method implements a highly reliable and accurate molecular diagnostic procedure that can be conducted in an ultra-low-cost portable device unit developed by the research team of IIT Kharagpur. The test results are rendered via a custom-made mobile application for dissemination without requiring manual interpretation.

Addressing a Virtual Press Conference today to announce this major development in the nation’s fight against COVID-19, the Union Minister of Education Dr. Ramesh Pokhriyal Nishank said, “I am glad the researchers from IIT Kharagpur have achieved the goal of Atmanirbhar Bharat through this medical technology innovation.”

“This would go on impacting the lives of many in rural India as the device is portable and can be operated on a very low energy supply. Minimally trained rural youth can operate this device,” he added.

The minister added that the 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.

Javadekar added, “As informed by IIT Kharagpur, this machine can be developed at a cost of less than Rs 10,000 with minimal infrastructural requirement making the technology affordable to common people. The testing process in this new machine is completed within an hour.”

Speaking about this test, Prof VK Tewari, Director, IIT Kharagpur, said, “This is indeed one of the greatest contributions in the history of medical science, particularly in the area of virology, and is well set to replace PCR-based tests to a large extent.”

“We collected 200 positive and negative samples. After blind labelling, they were tested in a real time RT-PCR machine and COVIRAP. Although we were initially sceptical about the outcome, when we compared the test results, we found the machine to be very accurate. The temperature controlled COVIRAP showed 94 per cent sensitivity and 96 per cent specificity.”

The novel diagnostic test has been subjected to rigorous testing protocols as per the ICMR guidelines, at ICMR-NICED, an institute authorised by ICMR.