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India Develops Swab-Mukt Saline Gargle RT-PCR Testing Kit

Patient-Friendly, Simple, Fast, Economical

NEERI – Nagpur says one can get result within 3 hours and the method is suitable for rural and tribal areas in particular.

NAGPUR, May 29 (The CONNECT) - A Saline Gargle RT-PCR Method for testing COVID-19 samples?

Yes, it’s true. Scientists of Nagpur-based National Environmental Engineering Research Institute (NEERI) under Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) have achieved another milestone in this journey, with the development of a 'Saline Gargle RT-PCR Method' for testing COVID-19 samples.

A Union Government press release says that the method has numerous Benefits: simple, fast, comfortable, economical, patient-friendly and comfortable. It also offers instant results and is well-suited for rural and tribal areas, given minimal infrastructure requirements.

It works this way: The patient gargles the solution and rinses it inside the tube. This sample in the collection tube is taken to the laboratory where it is kept at room temperature, in a special buffer solution prepared by NEERI. An RNA template is produced when this solution is heated, which is further processed for Reverse Transcription Polymerase Chain Reaction (RT-PCR). This particular method of collecting and processing the sample enables us to save on the otherwise costly infrastructural requirement of RNA extraction, Dr. Krishna Khairnar, Senior Scientist, Environmental Virology Cell, NEERI said

People can also test themselves, since this method allows self-sampling. The method is environment-friendly as well, since waste generation is minimized.

Speaking to PIB (Press Information Bureau), Dr Khairnar  said: “Swab collection method requires time. Moreover, since it is an invasive technique, it is a bit uncomfortable for patients. Some time is lost also in the transport of the sample to the collection centre. On the other hand, the Saline Gargle RT-PCR method is instant, comfortable and patient-friendly. Sampling is done instantly and results will be generated within 3 hours.”

Collection methods like nasopharyngeal and oropharyngeal swab collection require technical expertise; they are also time-consuming. In contrast, the Saline Gargle RT-PCR method uses a simple collection tube filled with saline solution.

A Boon for Rural and Tribal Areas: The scientist expects that this innovative testing technique will be especially beneficial for rural and tribal areas where infrastructure requirements can be a constraint. The non-technique has received the approval of the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR). NEERI has further been asked to train other testing labs, to help scale up its adoption across the country.

Nagpur Municipal Corporation has given permission to go ahead with the method, following which testing has begun at NEERI, as per approved testing protocol.

Scientists, researchers and lab-technicians of the Environmental Virology Cell at NEERI have taken painstaking efforts to develop this patient-friendly technique amid surging COVID-19 infections in the Vidarbha region. Dr. Khairnar and his team hopes that the method is implemented at the national level, resulting in faster and more citizen-friendly testing, thereby strengthening our battle against the pandemic.

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