ICMR approves OmiSure, the first RT-PCR kit to detect Omicron variant of COVID
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Amid the Omicron scare, a new version of COVID-19 wreaking devastation on the world, India has come up with the first Omicron detection kit. The Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) has given a green signal to OmiSure, a kit that will be used to detect Omicron. The kit that has been manufactured by Tata Medical and Diagnostics is said to be developed by the US-based scientific instrumentation company Thermo Fisher.
An approval letter by ICMR dated December 30, 2021, said, “The tests have been performed as per the manufacturer’s instructions. Responsibility for batch-to-batch consistency lies with the manufacturer.” The Omisure test kit is expected to use the S Gene Target Failure (SGTF) strategy to detect the variant. ‘S’ Gene, ORF, ‘N’ gene, Rdrp, ‘E’ gene, etc are the viral genes that are targeted to detect the COVID-19 virus. In the case of the Omicron variant, the ‘S’ gene does not get detected in Thermo Fisher’s Taq Path RT-PCR test due to mutation in the gene, while other gene targets such as the ORF gene and N gene get detected.
The kit comes as a major help to analysts who were facing issues understanding the Omicron variant. Since the Omicron variant underwent several mutations in the S-gene, the SGTF strategy checks and indicates it in patients who are detected COVID positive. However, the kit is expected to be more expensive compared to regular test kits owing to its increased research and development in technology. Earlier on December 17, the ICMR had invited pharma companies to submit an Expression of Interest (EoI) to commercialize diagnostic kits developed for the detection of the Omicron variant of the coronavirus.
So far, there are 1,45,582 active coronavirus cases in India whereas 3,42,95,407 patients have recovered and 4,81,893 deaths have been reported. Also, 1892 cases of Omicron have been reported from 23 Indian states and union territories, with 766 people becoming infection-free or fleeing the country. The state with the most cases of Omicron are Maharashtra, followed by Delhi, Kerala, Rajasthan, Gujarat and Tamil Nadu.