New Covid-19 variants can now be detected in 1 hour

The new coronavirus variant is detected through genome sequencing of the virus present in the samples collected from Covid-19 patients and suspects. It takes up to two days (36-48 hours). Now, Indian scientists have developed a test that detects the coronavirus variants within an hour as reported by India Today.

It has been developed by the same team of the Council of Scientific & Industrial Research (CSIR) that developed Feluda test for Covid-19 diagnosis. It is called RAY (Rapid variant AssaY), another Covid-19 test. The name was given in paying homage to legendary Bengali filmmaker Satyajit Ray. Feluda — a paper-based Covid-19 test named after Ray’s fictional detective — was earlier named after the filmmaker. Genome sequencing is a lengthy scientific process requiring multiple machine-systems making isolating genome of all the samples collected by the health authorities within a limited time span almost impossible. The CSIR’s RAY test thus can be a game-changer in detecting the new variant and establish the extent of its spread. Like Feluda, RAY is also a paper strip-based test that relies on a protein called Cas-9. It recognises and hooks to a particular segment of the viral genome of the variant. In case of a mismatch, it would not bind to the viral genome making it a negative result.

Another advantage of RAY test is that it can be modified to identify any future variant of the SARS-CoV-2 if need arises. All the viruses mutate frequently, and scientists expects SARS-CoV-2 to follow the same pattern in future.