New coronavirus diagnostic method devised by IIT Kharagpur gets ICMR approval Credit: Representational Image

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A new low-cost portable unit for rapid diagnostics of coronavirus named COVIRAP, has been developed by a team of researchers at the Indian Institute of Technology, IIT Kharagpur. This cuboid shaped device produces results in under an hour and shows an accuracy level slightly lower than the gold standard RT-PCR method.

According to the team, COVIRAP has been ‘vigorously’ tested and validated by the Indian Council for Medical Research (ICMR). Various commercial units have started approaching them for technology licensing. The team added that, COVIRAP can also check for other diseases such as dengue, malaria, influenza among others.

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This low cost device costs only Rs. 500 per test and can be housed anywhere, even without an air- conditioned laboratory.

Every test requires a kit of three master mixes. After several steps of mixing and heating, an image of the testing strips is grabbed by a smartphone camera of a custom-made mobile application, and a definite result is produced.

The kit comes with a set of instructions which can be easily operated by any lab technician; and could be useful in the distant rural areas of the country with poor health infrastructure.

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