Representational Image

HIGHLIGHTS:

  • The sensor aims to help the middle-to-low-income countries that are grappling to control the prevalence of COVID-19 in a larger area where it is spread through wastewater.
  • The sensor can be used with portable equipment that uses the standard Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) test to detect the SARS-CoV-2 virus.

Fighting against the global pandemic has led the UK and Indian scientists to jointly invent a low-cost sensor to detect the SARS-CoV-2 virus that causes the COVID-19 within the wastewater. With this invention, the experts believe that it is likely to help the middle-to-low-income countries which are grappling to control the prevalence of COVID-19 in a larger area where it is spread through contaminated water.

To test the sensor, the experts collected wastewater from a sewage treatment plant in Mumbai spiked with SARS-Cov-2 Ribonucleic Acid (RNA). Reportedly, the sensor managed to detect the genetic material at concentrations as low as 10 picograms per microlitre.

The low-cost sensor has been developed by researchers from the University of Strathclyde in the UK and those from the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Bombay in India. An expert has cited that traces of the virus within wastewater would enable public health officials to get a better understanding of how prevalent the disease is in a larger area.

Moreover, the sensor can be used with portable equipment that uses the standard Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) test to detect the SARS-CoV-2 virus. This will help to cut off the need for expensive chemicals and the lab infrastructure needed for real-time quantitative PCR tests.

Adding to it, Dr. Siddharth Tallur, associate professor in the department of electrical engineering at IIT Bombay, said, “The method we have developed is not just applicable to SARS-CoV-2, it could be applied to any other virus so it’s very versatile.” He added that in the future, the focus will be on optimizing the assay further to increase accuracy and integrate it with a portable platform to handle ‘both PCR reaction and electrochemical measurement’.

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