Scientists at Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR)’s Regional Medical Research Centre (RMRC) in Dibrugarh, Assam, have developed a test kit to detect the new Omicron variant of SARS-CoV-2.

According to news reports, the team has been working on the test kit for last one month, and had tested 1000 samples of Covid-19 positive patients.

It is a hydrolysis probe-based real-time RT-PCR assay, that has been tested against specific synthetic gene fragments of the Omicron variant.

Currently, the licensing process is underway for the test kit, and is expected to be available at testing labs from the next week, Financial Express reported.

The test kit is expected to rapidly detect the presence of Omicron variant within two hours, using swab samples.

It would prevent travellers from waiting for hours to get tested and sending the samples to labs for genome sequencing, which is a complex process.

Kolkata-based manufacturer GCC biotech is producing the kits, under a public-private partnership (PPP) model, the publication said.

Also, the test kit is intended for use at pathological labs equipped with RT-PCR facility, and is not an on-site test, such as rapid anti-gen kits.

Earlier this year, ICMR researchers have developed a rapid test kit to detect silicosis, a long-term lung disease caused by exposure to crystalline silica dust.

ICMR has teamed up with the Mumbai’s National Institute of Virology (NIV) and the National Institute of Occupational Health, for developing the test kit.

The test kit detects serum CC16 levels in a drop of blood, and was said to be the world’s first rapid test for silicosis.