New Delhi: Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan on Sunday announced a new indigenously developed ‘Feluda’ paper strip test for the diagnosis of COVID-19 is set to be rolled out very soon to replace the regular tests. Also Read - India, China Manage To Get Richer Even As Coronavirus Hits Global Wealth: Report

“Based on tests in over 2,000 patients during the trials at the Institute of Genomics and Integrative Biology (IGIB) and on testing in private labs, the test showed 96% sensitivity and 98% specificity. This compares favourably to ICMR’s current acceptance criteria of RT-PCR Kit of at least 95% sensitivity and at least 99% specificity,” Vardhan said, during an interaction with his social media followers on the fifth episode ‘Sunday Samvaad’ platform. Also Read - 61% Indians Sceptical About Covid-19 Vaccine & Won't RushEven If it Came in 2021: Survey

The kit has already been validated by the Department of Atomic Energy’s National Centre for Biological Sciences, Bangalore, he noted, adding that the test is expected within the next few weeks. Also Read - Good News! Delhi's IGI Airport Ranked Second Safest in The World For Covid Safety Protocols

The Health Minister also asserted that the government has not yet taken a view on granting emergency authorisation to COVID-19 vaccines in India, as and when they become available. Presently COVID-19 vaccines are in various stages of phases 1, 2 and 3 of human clinical trials, the results of which are awaited, Vardhan said.

“Adequate safety and efficacy data is required for emergency use authorisation, vaccine approval for ensuring patient safety. Further course of action will depend on the data generated,” he underlined.

Referring to reports of reinfection surfacing in various states, Vardhan said an analysis by the ICMR has revealed that many cases reported as COVID-19 reinfection have been misclassified because RT-PCR tests can detect dead-virus shed for prolonged periods after recovery.

What is Feluda test?

As opposed to the regular RT-PCR test which takes up to two days, the Feluda COVID test is priced at Rs 500 and can deliver a result in 45 minutes. It is more accurate than the Rapid Antigen test and nearly as quick (but cheaper) than India’s CRISPR technology, Feluda changes colour on detection of SARS-CoV-2.