IIT-Hyderabad develops cheaper COVID-19 testing kit ‘COVIHOME’

A view of the ‘COVIHOME’ COVID-19 test kit, developed by Prof. Shiv Govind Singh of IITH in Sangareddy district. Photo: Special Arrangement

A view of the ‘COVIHOME’ COVID-19 test kit, developed by Prof. Shiv Govind Singh of IITH in Sangareddy district. Photo: Special Arrangement

An Artificial Intelligence-powered COVID-19 test that can be performed at an affordable cost at home has been developed by researchers at the Indian Institute of Technology-Hyderabad (IITH) led by Prof. Shiv Govind Singh of the department of electrical engineering, it was announced on Thursday.

This test kit can produce results within 30 minutes for both symptomatic and asymptomatic patients and the major benefit of this testing kit is that it does not require RT-PCR (Reverse Transcription Polymerase Chain Reaction), an expert human resource, and a BSL-2 lab facility for the extraction of RNA, so it has potential for one to take the test at home without expert supervision, said an official press release.

CSIR-Centre for Cellular & Molecular Biology (CCMB) has performed the validation of the rapid RNA electronic diagnostic device for detection of SARS-Cov-2 virus in the swab samples independently with the in-house samples and hospital samples as advised by Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR). These samples were confirmed for their positivity or negativity by the RT-PCR method. The validation report confirmed the kit’s efficiency 94.2%, sensitivity 91.3%, and specificity 98.2%.

Each test costs around ₹400 now. However, mass production of the testing kit will help to reduce the cost to around ₹300 per test after taking the required ICMR approvals.

“IITH has come up with many unique and novel socio-technological initiatives during this pandemic. Prof. Govind Singh’s “COVIHOME” is one such admirable milestone. I am confident it will play a significant role in the safe & fast diagnosis of the COVID-19 and minimise its spread”, said IITH Director Prof. B. S. Murty.

COVIHOME testing kit research team also consisted of Dr. Suryasnata Tripathy, Supraja Patta, Swati Mohanty, and other students led by Prof. Singh. Initial clinical trial and testing of the device was performed at ESIC Medical College and Hospital in Hyderabad. “Dean ESIC, Prof. M. Srinivas and his team of Dr. Imaran, Dr. Swati, and Dr. Rajeev have played a big role in the successful development of this novel kit”, said Prof. Singh.

“A major objective of the research team for the development of the ‘COVIHOME’ test kit was to break the transmission chain through affordable testing. We have already filed a patent for the device and are now looking for industry partners for Transfer of Technology (ToT) for mass production”, he added, in the release.

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Printable version | May 27, 2022 8:20:22 pm |