Dry Swab Direct RT-PCR Test Method

The Dry Swab Direct RT-PCR testing method was recently approved by the Indian Council of Medical Research to test the covid-19 virus. The test was developed by Council of Scientific and Industrial Research-Centre for Cellular and Molecular Biology (CSIR-CCMB) by making a simple variation to the standard RT-PCR method.

What is Dry Swab Direct RT-PCR testing method?

It is an RNA extraction testing method. The method was developed to scale up the testing of the virus in the country by two to three fold. The method is highly inexpensive and does not require new investment of resources. It has a quick turnaround time. Also, in this testing method the swabs collected can be transported in dry state. Therefore, handling and transportation of samples become easier and also less prone to spread of infection.

Why was the method developed?

The CSIR-CCMB was involved in testing samples since April 2020. According to CSIR-CCMB, the conventional testing processes carry key issues slowing down the testing processes in the country. Therefore, in order to increase the testing speed and capabilities of the COVID-19 in India, the new method has been developed.

How is the method different from that of the conventional methods?

The conventional methods transport the naso pharyngeal or oropharyngeal swab samples by placing them in a liquid called viral transport medium. The samples are then packed with extra care to avoid leakage of the liquid. These complications increase the processing time at the testing centres and also at the sample collection centres. It also increases the cost of the testing. On the other hand, the direct RT PCR testing method transports the samples in their dry state.

Also, in the dry swab direct RT-PCR testing, the step of RNA isolation is omitted. This method has the potential to bring down the cost and testing time by 40% to 50%.

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