The Council of Scientific and Industrial Research-Centre for Cellular and Molecular Biology (CSIR-CCMB) in India has collaborated with Apollo Hospitals to manufacture and commercialise a novel dry swab RT-PCR test.

Known as Direct Amplification rapid Reverse Transcription – Polymerase Chain Reaction (DArRT-PCR) for SARS-CoV-2 detection, the test is rapid, safe, and cost-effective.

It works by converting SARS-CoV-2 viral RNA into DNA and then amplifies the DNA to confirm the virus presence.

Usually, swabs are stored in a liquid called Viral Transport Medium, which is imported and expensive.

With the help of the DArRT-PCR test, dry nasal or throat swabs can be easily obtained from people.

The sample collection centres can send dry nasal or oropharyngeal swabs to testing centres with no need for the Viral Transport Medium.

CSIR-CCMB noted that the biological sample can be directly isolated from the patient swabs with the help of a one-step protocol.

Currently, the method used needs costly reagents and steps that add to the expertise and time required to receive results.

Compared to these tests, the rapid DArRT-PCR test reduces the time and human effort by 40%-50%.

CSIR-CCMB director Dr Rakesh Mishra said: “The virus will be here for some time, it seems, and those who test more frequently will be able to contain the impact of Covid-19 better. Cheaper, rapid, and easy-to-use tests as these are the need of the hour.”

The test will be made available across India through the Apollo Hospitals network.