Hyderabad: Cellular and Molecular Biology (CCMB), has offered to train ICMR-approved government as well as private COVID-19 testing labs in dry swab-based direct RT-PCR method.

Developed by CSIR- CCMB, Hyderabad, the dry swab-based direct RT-PCR method of COVID-19 testing has been approved by ICMR and can be adopted by testing labs across the country.

This method is easier to carry out than the current procedures. It can ramp up testing threefold using the current infrastructure in the labs. CCMB aims to train 500 testing centers across India starting this week. Most of these sessions will be online.

The centers can book their slots here: http://e-portal.ccmb.res.in/dst_slotbooking/. Those in and around Hyderabad can also avail physical training sessions by reaching out to the Director at CCMB.

This method needs no Viral Transport Medium for sending samples from sample collection centers to testing labs. This requires much lesser sample packing and no contamination between samples.

In this method, the RNA isolation steps have been replaced by a single-step addition of an easily available reagent. Extract from this step can be directly used for RT-PCR without compromising on the quality of results. These make the tests faster, cheaper, safer for the healthcare workers, and increase throughput with existing resources and setup.

The technology has been licensed to various healthcare companies such as Apollo Hospitals, Meril Life, Spice Health, and Capital Health Pvt Ltd to manufacture and commercialize these testing kits. Many other industry partners are expected to come on board soon.

"India is witnessing a steep surge in COVID-19 cases. The testing centers are overwhelmed with the number of samples. There is an absolute need to increase our testing capacity within the existing setup. We are positive that the dry swab-based direct RT-PCR method will be of immense help," said Dr. Rakesh Mishra, Advisor, CCMB.

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