Feluda would give result in less than an hour and will cost around Rs 500 Credit: Representational Image

Union Health minister Harshvardhan announced that Feluda paper strip for COVID-19 testing would be launched soon, possibly in the next few weeks. Named after the famous fictional Indian detective Feluda, the strip works on a gene-editing technology known as Crispr. It will give results in less than an hour and will cost around Rs 500.

Developed at the Institute of Genomics and Integrative Biology (IGIB) in Delhi, it was tested on about 2000 patients, including those who already tested positive for COVID-19. The test strip will be manufactured by the Tata group. This will be the first paper-based test for coronavirus ever to be brought to the markets.

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Feluda is said to be a highly sensitive test which would be able to detect COVID-19 with precision.

During an interaction with his social media followers on ‘Sunday Samvad’ platform, he said “Adequate safety and efficacy data is required for emergency use authorisation, vaccine approval for ensuring patient safety. Further course of action will depend on the data generated.”

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Union minister also updated on the progress of vaccines which are at different phases the results.

Upon asked about the government’s plans of rolling out COVID-19 vaccine, he said that supplies of vaccines would be available in limited quantities at the start. “In a huge country like India, it is critical to prioritise vaccine delivery based on various factors such as risk of exposure, comorbidity among various population groups, the mortality rate among COVID-19 cases, and several others,” the minister said.

About the re-infection reports in various states, Harshvardhan said an analysis by the ICMR has revealed that many cases reported as COVID-19 re-infection have been misclassified because-PCR tests can detect dead-virus shed for prolonged periods after recovery. Actual re-infection would mean a fully recovered person getting infected by a freshly introduced virus in his/her body, belonging to the same or different strain. ICMR is commissioning a study to understand the real burden of re-infected cases. Results will be shared in a couple of weeks,” he said.

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