Even as Gujarat reported 24 more Omicron infections on Monday, taking the state tally to 73 till date, the whole genome sequencing of only 13 patients has been completed till date as per records on the govemment database. This means that the indigenously developed PCR test for Omicron synthesised by Gujarat Bio technology Research Centre (GBRC) has given 5.5 times more results than genome sequencing leading to isolation and contact tracing of Omicron patients before it can spread further, only 13 samples have been confirmed through genome sequencing, since the process takes 6-7 days to give results. The Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) test developed by the state lab in Gujarat is yet to get a nod by the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR).
Notably, researchers at GBRC had developed a PCR test that exclusively detects the Omicron variant using deletions of amino acid numbers 144 and 145. It gives results in 5-7 hours and is currently being used only by GBRC in Gujarat.
The state INSACOG lab had offered the test to any other government lab free of cost. While no other government lab has sought the test, sources informed Mirror that an interested private player, a medical equipment manufacturing firm from Jamnagar, has sought to obtain the technology from GBRC. However, since the technology transfer to a private company would entail a for-profit component, the process has got stuck in bureaucracy. The main problem here is not just whether the Gujarat government decides to license this technology to a private company, but that the PCR test would require approval from ICMR before a private player can use the test to sell it to other Covid testing laboratories. Sources in the Department of Science and Technology (DST) department of Gujarat said, While GBRC has successfully managed to test Omicron patients in a single day.