The Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) has approved a new COVID-19 testing method, which is a do-it-yourself version of the RT-PCR test for coronavirus detection.

The Saline Gargle RT-PCR method, which gives results within three hours, is developed by researchers at Maharashtra’s Nagpur-based National Environmental Engineering Research Institute (NEERI). 

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Here’s all you need to know about the Saline Gargle RT-PCR method in 6 points:

1. The method is simple, fast, cost-effective, environment-friendly, patient-friendly and comfortable.

2. The test is well-suited for rural and tribal areas, given its minimal infrastructure requirements.

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3. The method uses a sample collection tube filled with saline solution. The patient, who wants to test herself for COVID-19, gargles the solution for 15 seconds and rinses it inside the tube.

4. This sample in the collection tube is taken to the laboratory where it is kept at room temperature for 30 minutes, in a special buffer solution prepared by NEERI.

5. An RNA template is produced when this solution is heated at 98 degrees for six minutes, which is further processed for Reverse Transcription-Polymerase Chain Reaction (RT-PCR).

6. The Nagpur Municipal Corporation has given permission to go ahead with the method, following which testing has begun at NEERI.

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In a short video posted by the Centre on Twitter, Krishna Khairnar, senior scientist, Environmental Virology Cell at NEERI, explained how one can use the Saline Gargle RT-PCR method. Watch:

“Methods like nasopharyngeal and oropharyngeal swab collection require technical expertise and they are also time-consuming. In contrast, the Saline Gargle RT-PCR method uses a simple collection tube filled with saline solution,” Khairnar said.