India’s New Paper COVID-19 Test May Be a Game Changer

India has developed a paper-based coronavirus test that delivers results in an hour and costs under $7.00. It is based on gene editing technology called Crispr and was found to have 96% sensitivity and 98% specificity which means it can detect anyone who has the disease and rule out those who do not. The strip-test has basically the same level of accuracy as PCR testing with quicker turnaround time, less costly equipment, and better ease of use.

According to BBC News, the test is called Feluda named after a famous Indian detective character, and will be manufactured by Tata, a leading Indian company. It was developed by scientists at the Council of Scientific & Industrial Research’s Institute of Genomics and Integrative Biology (CSIR-IGIB) in New Delhi, according to The Print.

“This is a simple, precise, reliable, scalable, and frugal test,” said professor K Vijay Raghavan, scientific advisor to the Indian government. Crispr stands for Clustered Regularly Interspaced Short Palindromic Repeats and works like a word processor to detect genetic patterns.

“This strip will be similar to a pregnancy test strip and will not require any specialized skill and machines to perform, as is the case with other PCR tests. This strip will just change color and can be used in a simple pathological lab. The most important part is that it will be 100% accurate,” said Shekhar C. Mande, director general of CSIR.

Two blue lines indicate a positive result, while a single blue line means the test was negative, according to BBC News. While scientists at Stanford University and Massachusetts Institute of Technology have been testing this technology, India is the first country to develop an actual test.

“Testing remains a limited resource and something that we need to do everything we can to improve its availability,” said Dr. Stephen Kissler, of Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health.

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