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Odishatv Bureau

As Omicron-fuelled Covid cases continue to spike in India, the Drug Controller General of India (DCGI) on Wednesday approved the newly designed Real-Time PCR (RT-PCR) test kit to detect the new variant of SARS-CoV-2 in a fast and hassle free manner.

Omicron detecting RT-PCR kit has been developed in partnership with Tata Medical and Diagnostics and Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) and it has been approved by DCGI, Dr Balram Bhargava, DG of ICMR informed reporters today.

As per Bhargava, the new test kit named ' OmiSure' can detect the Omicron variant of SARS-CoV2 in nasopharyngeal/oropharyngeal specimens and give results in just 4 hours. 

Ravi Vasanthapuram, the head of the research and development of TATA MD said the test kit is compatible with all standard Real-Time PCR Machines. It kit can detect the Omicron variant as well as other variants of SARS-CoV2 reported so far. 

The first target is based on S-gene dropout or S-gene target failure (SGTF), and the second target is based on S-gene mutation amplification (SGMA), said Vasanthapuram.

Currently, Omicron patients are detected only after genome sequencing which is a bit time-consuming process. 

As per the developer, TATA MD, the test run time of this kit is 85 minutes. The result turnaround time, including sample collection and RNA extraction, is 130 minutes. Currently, all tests across the globe employ either SGTF or SGMA, but this unique test design combines both.

Therefore, it has two checks in place for Omicron detection without compromising the ability to detect other SARS-CoV-2 variants.

The ICMR DG further warned that Omicron has become the predominant circulating strain in the cities in the country so it is imperative that mass gatherings to be avoided to lower the speed of virus spread.

As far as new cases are concerned, the ICMR DG informed that around 25.2 lakh cases were recorded globally on 4th January , the highest ever since the onset of the pandemic. Approx 65% of cases in the week ending 4th Jan reported from the USA, UK, France, Italy & Spain.

The Union Health Ministry on Wednesday informed that a total of 2,135 cases of Omicron variant of coronavirus have been detected across 24 states and UTs so far, out of which 828 have recovered or migrated.

India saw a single-day rise of 58,097 new coronavirus infections, the highest in over six months.

(With Agency Inputs)

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