TODAY -

Lack of kits for extracting RNA to test COVID-19 at RTPCR reduce providing test result
Source: IT News

Imphal, August 08 2020: At a time when maximum testing for COVID -19 is urgently required with the spread of the COVID -19 pandemic at local level, number of samples that are presently tested at both VRDL of RIMS and JNIMS cannot increase more than 1200 at an average per day, besides having equipment to test more than 2000 per day due to lack of reagent kits Gene Mag DNA/RNA Extraction Kit) for automated RNA extraction machines installed each at JNIMS and RIMS.

The kit which is supposed to be supplied by the Health department through the ICMR has been converted into contract work by awarding the supply order to one M/S Meitram Medicos.

Both the RNA extraction machines installed at JNIMS and RIMS during middle week of July had the capacity to extract RNA for 96 samples at one go and it takes only around few hours to be sent to RT-PCR.

At the time when the 96 capacity RNA extractors have been installed in July, 100 extraction kits (50 for JNIMS and another 50 for RIMS) has been provided by the State Health department.

But as the state health department had reportedly stopped supply of the kits by now both the automated RNA extraction machines remain useless.

However, RT-PCR testing are still going on at both VRDLs of RIMS and JNIMS with other manual RNA extractor machines.

JNIMS at present have 2 RNA extractor at which one is the newly installed 96 capacity machine and other with 12 capacity as per source.

The Institution also have another 2 Qiagen RNA extractor with the capacity of 12 .

At RIMS VRDL with the newly automated equipments, the total RNA extractor is 5 according to a reliable source .

Among this three of the Qiagen RNA extractor had the capacity of only 12 while one has the capacity of 14 .

Lab technicians has been working round the clock at both the VRDLs however, the announcement by the Health Directorate about the testing capacity of around 2000 per day turn out to be a blatant lie as the automated genetics RNA extractor machine with the capacity of 96 sample is out of stock since the last couple of days.

When Imphal Times contacted the Medical Superintendent of JNIMS to enquire about this , the Medical Superintendent simply said that he have no idea of the stock.

When the matter was asked to State Health Department authority, an authority said that there are adequate stock of testing kits and no VRDLs has send report.

"At present around 500 to 800 sample arrived per day and there is no backlog at both the VRDLs of RIMS and JNIMS in the testing", a source said to Imphal Times.

At a time when there are possibilities of community spread and the district administration declaring containment zone at many places, the number of samples received are enromous but the authority justifies saying the number of sample has been reduced as testing has been done through Rapid Antigen test and TruNat.

However, source with the Imphal Times said that the sample collection has been intentionally delayed and lowered as some people are making profit out of the pandemic.

According to health expert, it is stated that the RTPCR is a gene based test that can detect presence of even 1 virus in the nose/pharynx coz it changes RNA to DNA and goes on amplifying that virus through 35 cycles giving 35 billion copies of 1 virus if done properly and in a standardized lab.

TruNat tests an enzyme RdRp used by RNA viruses during multiplication in the body.

So if negative, it's a guarantee of no infection.

But if positive, it needs to be confirmed that this RdRp is of nCovid19 origin, hence follow up by RTPCR.

As for the Antigen, it tests the spike protein that the virus needs to attach to human cell.

So, if positive, means virus is present, but if negative, may mean virus too small in quantity at the time to show up on test so negatives have to be reconfirmed by RTPCR.

That means, in all the test conducted to make sure that the spread of the virus is contained RTPCR test is a must.

The number of testing can only be increased with the number of RNA extracted from the sample and sent to RTPCR which is still considered as the most accurate one.

Instead of making sure that there is no deficit of RNA extractor kits for the two newly installed machines why the State Health Department is outsourcing it to contractors/ suppliers for procuring of the much needed kits.

At this time of crisis why is the need for the Department to award the supply work to private firm called M/S Meitram Medicos, when it should be done directly by the Health Department.


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