Most people who test positive for COVID-19 do not know which variant they have been infected with unless and until they get a Genome Sequencing done. Most of the RT-PCR tests that are currently being used in India can only tell whether the person has an infection or not. They cannot distinguish between Omicron and other strains of COVID-19, with OmiSure being an exception.
Chennai-based KRIYA Medical Technologies, in collaboration with ImmuGenix Bioscience, has come up with an RT-PCR test that can detect the infection and determine the variant in 45 minutes. Called KRIVIDA Novus RT-PCR kit, it has been approved by the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR). The kit can differentiate the Omicron variant from Delta and other variants like Alpha, Beta, Gamm, Lambda, and Mu.
KRIVDA Novus can detect the variant much faster than whole genome sequencing tests that take 4-7 days, said Dr Naveen Kumar Venkatesan, chief scientist and founder of ImmuGenix Biosciences, who is also the principal inventor of the kit.
In an exclusive interaction with THE WEEK, Anu Moturi, CEO, KRIYA said: “It took us about 45 days to make the kit happen. It is a single test that catches all variants and differentiates them quickly. That is a huge breakthrough. KRIVIDA Novus is a 5 gene kit. In fact, KRIVIDA Novus is the only kit that can detect the sub lineages of the Omicron variant.’’
The kit will soon be commercially available across the country. It is particularly useful for entry point screening into countries, said Moturi. “The kit is much suitable for travelers at airport screening point.’’
Answering a query on how it is going to be priced, she said it will be affordable and priced competitively. ‘’We want to make the test accessible to all.’’
“We now have a manufacturing capacity of 5 million. We plan to ramp it up to an additional 5-10 million within a week, based on demand for the kits,’’ added Moturi.
KRIVIDA Novus will be manufactured at KRIYA’s facility state of the art facility at Oragadam in Chennai.
The Tata Medical and Diagnostics OmiSure kits to detect Omicron have also been approved by ICMR. Priced at Rs 250 per kit, it is described as the world’s first kit that can detect Omicron. “OmiSure takes 85 minutes with 3 genes as a target whereas KRIVDA Novus takes just 45 minutes with 4 target genes against SARS-CoV-2,’’ said Venkatesan.