THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: Starting Saturday, the state will use the TrueNat diagnostic tool for testing Covid-19. A comprehensive assay for the screening and confirmation of coronavirus cases, the system will be used to test samples taken from pregnant women and people belonging to high-risk groups. Eighteen centres, including district hospitals and primary health centres, will have access to the TrueNat tool.
The major benefit of the system is that results will be available within an hour.
The state is currently offering RT-PCR and CB-NAAT tests to screen and confirm Covid-19 through 23 labs.“The decision to use TrueNat has come close on the heels of the state government’s decision to augment testing,” a health department officer told TNIE. “As a minimum of 3,000 samples have to be tested daily, the new diagnostic tool will be of great help.” According to the officer, the TrueNat assay -- an accurate method for quick screening of tuberculosis -- has been validated by the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) as a point-of-care test for the Nipah virus too.
At the same time, the state health department has stated that a request from a registered modern medicine practitioner at the Designated Sample Collection Facility is required for a person to get tested using TrueNat. While the price has been fixed at Rs 1,500 per test, poor patients having the Karunya Arogya Suraksha Paddhathi (KASP) card can get it done for free. Private labs can reimburse the cost from the KASP.
In a document released on May 21, ICMR had said that TrueNat is a fully indigenous diagnostic platform that offers a reliable and affordable option to augment the Covid-19 testing capacity in India. The platform comprises a TrueNat machine, inbuilt RNA extraction system, RT-PCR chips, collection swabs and viral lysis medium (VLM).
A single assay has a turnaround time of 35-50 minutes for one to four samples with a total of 12-48 samples being tested per day, depending upon the type of machine. Compared to RT-PCR and CB-NAAT, the biosafety and biosecurity requirements are minimal for TrueNat as the sample is collected in a viral lysis medium (VLM), which inactivates the virus.
The major benefit of TrueNat is that results will be available in an hour. The state is currently offering RT-PCR and CB-NAAT tests to screen and confirm Covid-19 via 23 labs.