Don't like Throat Swab test? Saline Gargle RT-PCR is here

Don't like Throat Swab test? Saline Gargle RT-PCR is here

Even though the RT-PCR procedure remains the same, potentially the suspected patient can get the test result faster.

A team of researchers at the Environmental Virology Cell, CSIR-NEERI (Nagpur) have innovated a Saline Gargle RT-PCR test for detection of COVID-19 disease. The Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) has granted approval for the use of the Saline Gagle Test for Covid-detection and advised NEERI to train other COVID-19 testing labs.

National Environmental Engineering Research Institute (Neeri)'s path-breaking innovation for Covid testing is also world-first. Under the new technique, no RNA extraction is necessary as is the case with existing testing of samples.

Even though the RT-PCR procedure remains the same, potentially the suspected patient can get the test result faster.

What is CSIR-NEERI?
The CSIR-NEERI is the Centre for Scientific and Industrial Research - National Environmental Engineering Research Institute - a research institute created and funded by the Government of India, established in Nagpur in 1958 with a focus on water supply, sewage disposal, communicable diseases and to some extent on industrial pollution and occupational diseases found common in post-independent India.

What are the features of the Saline Gargle RT-PCR Test?

  1. No need for a swab and viral transport medium as in Nasopharyngeal swab, oropharyngeal swab

  2. No need for skilled health care workers for sample collection

  3. Sampling is non-invasive, convenient, and patient-friendly

  4. Waste generation during sample collection is minimised.

  5. Self-sampling is possible.

  6. Fast sampling is possible.

  7. Long queues of patients/persons at the sample collection centre can be minimised.

  8. No RNA extraction kit required. Simple room temperature incubation in buffer, followed by heating for few minutes is good enough to give a reasonably good RNA template for Direct RT-PCR.

  9. Saves time and money.

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Dr Krishna Khairnar who is credited with having formulated this Saline Gargle sample RT-PCR test told BBC Marathi, "Several people are hassled by or feel nervous when subjected to the throat sample collection test. Also, there are long waits to give samples. Compared to that, the Saline Gargle sample can be collected with ease by the patient and a good sample for RT-PCR can be acquired."

How to do the Saline Gargle Test?

  1. Get the tube (Test-tube) with 5 ml saline water.

  2. Fill your mouth with the saline water and swirl the liquid inside the mouth.

  3. After 15 seconds fill the tube with the gargled water.

  4. You can do this sample collection standing right outside a sample collection centre or testing lab.

  5. Pass on the collected sample to the path lab for the RT-PCR test.

Dr Krishna Khairnar, the scientist who brought about this innovation, informed The Times of India that this is a simpler and faster technique for RT-PCR testing. 'We have been working on this technique for almost a month. Gargling is one of the commonly used methods to tackle upper respiratory infection. We thought why not use the same method to trap the virus,' he said. Khairnar is a scientist and head of environmental virology cell at Neeri.

How different is it from Throat Swab processing?

  • In the swab collection test, the lab extracts RNA from the sample, but not so in the gargle test

  • The Saline Gargle is added to a specific cocktail of chemicals

  • The mix is retained at room temperature for 30 minutes

  • It is then heated for 6 minutes at 98 Degrees

  • This sample can be used for RT-PCR test with the step of RNA extraction, saving time and money

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