The cartridge-based nucleic acid amplification test (CBNAAT) has been made available for COVID-19 testing at Government Medical College, Ernakulam.
The State Tuberculosis (TB) Centre has made available 360 test kits for the same. The CBNAAT machine is used to detect tuberculosis and it was readied for COVID-19 testing after modifying the software for the cartridges.
The CBNAAT will help in quicker testing of COVID-19 samples as it will provide results in 45 minutes. The reverse transcriptase polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) testing takes about four hours for test results. At a time, four tests can be done with the CBNAAT machine.
The medical college got the registration on April 24 and COVID-19 tests were conducted on Sunday. Seven samples were tested with the facility.
Six were for patients who required liver transplantation, and one sample was of a person who died.
The CBNAAT can identify ‘E’ and the ‘N2’ genes. E gene is a coronavirus group gene of the RNA viruses, while N2 gene is specific to SARS-CoV-2 (Severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2) that causes COVID-19. The tests will be helpful in identifying whether SARS-CoV-2 was the cause of death and can help in COVID-19 screening before surgeries.
The State government has made the facility available at medical colleges in Thiruvananthapuram, Ernakulam and Kozhikode. Lancy Justus, head of the microbiology department at Government Medical College, Ernakulam, led the setting up of the laboratory and the first COVID-19 test using the facility. The tests will be conducted by two teams.