Coronavirus – Disease, Medical Sciences Involved & Preventive Measures

Omisure: India’s first RT-PCR kit to identify Omicron strain


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Gene sequencing, RTPCR

Mains level: COVID diagnosis

Omisure — India’s first home-grown testing kit has recently received approval from the Drugs Controller General of India.

About Omisure

  • Omisure is an omicron detecting RT-PCR kit developed by the Mumbai-based Tata Medical and Diagnostics Ltd (TATA MD) in partnership with the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR).
  • It can differentiate the omicron strain of the novel coronavirus from the delta, alpha and the other variants in under four hours.
  • It can diagnose this variant in a single step

How does it work?

  • This new kit can identify the Omicron variant by targeting two regions of the S or the spike gene.
  • This gene codes for the spike protein, which helps the novel coronavirus enter and infect human cells.
  • The S, the Enveloped (E), and Nucleocapsid (N) genes are some of the targets of conventional RT-PCR tests.
  • When it detects these genes, a patient sample is labelled positive. As omicron bears heavy mutations in the S gene, the RT-PCR can sometimes miss it.
  • The absence of S gene likely indicates omicron’s presence.
  • This is called S gene dropout or S gene target failure — and is one of the targets of Omisure.

How does Omisure compare with gene sequencing?

  • Gene sequencing reads the order of nucleotides, which are the building blocks of deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) and ribonucleic acid (RNA).
  • Despite being considered the gold standard, sequencing has a few limitations.
  • It is slow, expensive and complicated. It is a multi-step process.
  • It begins with extracting the virus’ RNA from patient samples, converting it into DNA, amplifying or multiplying it through RT-PCR before finally sending it for gene sequencing.
  • This entire process can take as many as three days.


PCR Test for Diagnosis of the COVID-19


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