1. To test more people, a fast and cheap paper-based coronavirus test will soon be available across India, with scientists hopeful it will help turn the tide on the pandemic in one of the world’s worst-hit nations.
2. The outbreak in the country has spread from densely packed megacities like Mumbai to rural communities with limited medical services.
3. The locally developed Feluda, named for a detective in a famous Indian novel series, resembles a home pregnancy paper-strip test and delivers results within an hour.
4. Researchers are optimistic that its low cost and ease of use can help stem the pathogen’s spread in poor and remote areas.
5. Currently, India diagnoses COVID-19 with either RT-PCR tests, which are highly accurate but require advanced lab machinery, or antigen tests, which can give results in just a few minutes at a limited cost but with significantly lower accuracy.
6. Feluda uses the gene-editing technique CRISPR-Cas9, which recently earned its inventors Jennifer Doudna and Emmanuelle Charpentier, the Nobel Prize in Chemistry.
7. Feluda has been granted government regulatory approval and Health Minister Harsh Vardhan said last week it could be rolled out in the next few weeks by Tata Group.