Bhubaneswar: Since COVID-19 is a new virus, its proper diagnosis or identification is a time consuming process which may take up to about 10 hours, informed Dr Sanghamitra Pati, Director, Regional Medical Research Centre (RMRC) Bhubaneswar today.
“From receipt of the sample at the laboratory to despatch of the report from our end it takes about ten hours,” stated Dr Pati explaining the complexities of the testing process for COVID-19 taking part in the scheduled press briefing on coronavirus at the Geeta Govinda Sadan here today.
Dr Pati said that novelcoronvavirus or COVID-19 , testing is not as simple as measuring someone’s blood pressure or haemoglobin count, because it is a RNA virus.
“The sample which is naso- pharengyal swab or oral pharengyal swab which comes in VTM (Virus transport mechanism) which has to triple layered to prevent spillage,” she stated.
Health workers engaged in collection of samples have to wear Personal Protective Equipment. Since COVID-19 is highly infectious it can infect 2.5 persons,” explained Dr Pati.
She said on arrival of the sample at RMRC, it is sanitized then it is taken to the laboratory.
The RMRC Director said that all those laboratories which have been approved by ICMR have a minimum bio-safety level.
“For us safety of our colleagues in the laboratory is equally important as is diagnosis.
RMRC has Bio Safety Level (BSL)-II plus. The sample is opened inside the BSL under negative pressure chamber so that scientists, lab technicians are fully protected. They all wear PPE,” she added.
Dr Pati stated that the sample on opening is first inactivated in Lysis buffer (a reagent) so that it cannot infect.
“Then in the second step we extract RNA for which we need RNA extraction kit. Then the sample is loaded in Real time RTPCR where it is amplified which is called screening and it takes four hours. When we come to know that it is positive, then a confirmatory panel decides which takes around 1.5 hours to 2 hours. So it is takes at least 8 hours to give a positive result,” she informed giving details of the process involved in COVID-19 sample testing.
The RMRC Director told, “We all worked on war-footing, RMRC is one of the 13 regional VRDL, we started after March 16 scientists ran in 3 shifts with total three machines”.
In the meanwhile, SCB and AIIMS people were given training at RMRC to conduct tests for COVID-19, she added.
“After delivering the report, we observed that we need to expand our capacity. COBAS 6800 is a high throughput machine using same RTPCR principle but it is fully automated,” Dr Pati pointed out.
She added NIB NOIDA and RMRC Bhubaneswar have COBAS 6800 – and it was the first RMRC to have COBAS 6800.