Thursday, December 2

Swiss machine to ramp up Cov tests

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Bengal is all set to get a high-end, automated Covid-testing machine from Switzerland that can run about 4,000 swab samples in 24 hours. The COBAS 6800 is likely to be installed at the state-run IPGMER (SSKM) and become operational by mid-August.
“Once we start using this machine, the number of Covid tests will go up sharply,” said a health department official.

The state had ordered the COBAS 6800 — worth about Rs 3 crore — in May with a set of 50,000 testing kits worth Rs 2 crore. The machine performs high-quality and high-volume RT-PCR test.

“This is an automated machine by Roche Diagnostics, where the process of RNA extraction is not required and the testing is fast and reliable,” said Pradip Mitra, former director of medical education, who is now coordinator of Bengal’s Covid management and containment committee.

The RT-PCR machines currently being used need RNA extracted from the swab before the test. In addition to taking more time, there is a risk of exposure to the virus during the process. It takes about six to eight hours to get the result. It takes longer if the laboratory does not have an automatic RNA extractor. But since COBAS 6800 eliminates this process, it minimizes the risk of infection to healthcare workers handling the samples.

“In COBAS 6800, all that needs to be done is feed the sample to the machine and it churns out the result in about 40 minutes,” said microbiologist Pratip Kundu, director, School of Tropical Medicine, Kolkata. In comparison, the existing system takes six to eight hours to throw up the result.
Source:Times of India

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