SCTIMST develops nasal, oral swabs for COVID 19 testing
Kerala - Technologists at Sree Chitra Tirunal Institute for Medical Sciences and Technology, (SCTIMST) an Institute of National Importance under the Department of Science and Technology, Govt of India, have developed 2 types of nasal and oral swabs and Viral transport medium for COVID-19 testing
Dr Lynda, Dr Shiny and Dr Maya are the technologists behind these innovations.
Nasal and throat specimens collected with specially designed swabs are used for the detection of SARS-COV2 by viral gene amplification method which is necessary for the confirmation of COVID 19. Proper and adequate specimen collection and its transport in a suitable liquid medium are critical for ensuring good quality and quantity of viral RNA from the sample for testing as these influence the accuracy of the test.
Centre for disease control and prevention (CDC) USA, recommends the use synthetic fibre swabs with plastic shafts, preferably flocked swabs when available.
ChitraEmBed flocked nylon swabs (co-developed with Mallelil Industries Pvt Ltd) and Chitra EnMesh, polymeric foam-tipped, lint-free swabs with flexible plastic handles have both proven efficiency in the adequacy of specimen collection, rapid elution of specimen into the liquid viral medium and good recovery of viral RNA collected using these swabs and medium.
Technologies for both swabs and viral transport medium have been transferred to two industries for immediate manufacture and sales, Mallelil Industries, Origin diagnostics and Levram Life sciences.
- They will be available as sterile, ready-to-use devices.
- The ergonomic design of the swabs helps in improved specimen collection with minimum discomfort to patients.
- Safe and convenient breakpoint ensures minimal contact of the health worker with the sample during packing.
Chitra Viral Transport Medium is specifically designed to retain the virus in its active form during its transportation from the collection point to the laboratory. Currently, kits containing 50 numbers of (3ml/vial) viral transport medium with 50 swabs cost is upwards of Rs 12000/.
The entry of these two swabs developed with locally available material can reduce import dependency of the materials currently used and meet the huge demand for them at much lower costs.