The news: Scientists at the National University of Science and Technology (NUST) Attaur Rahman School of Applied Biosciences (ASAB) have developed a testing kit for the novel coronavirus, as it spreads across Pakistan. Associate Professor Dr. Aneela Javed and Assistant Professor Dr. Ali Zohaib from NUST ASAB collaborated with researchers at the Wuhan Institute of Virology China, DZIF (Center for Infection Research) Germany, Columbia University USA and Armed Forces Institute of Pathology (AFIP) Rawalpindi, to develop this Diagnostic Molecular Assay kit for the detection for COVID-19.
Quarter the cost: These newly developed kits cost Rs2,000, which is one-fourth of the price of imported kits previously being used to test the virus. NUST officials said that the development of these assays came at a time when the world is dealing with an unprecedented pandemic. They underlined that scientists and researchers are also working to determine the best treatments for this incurable disease.
Conventional and real-time: The new assays use both conventional and real-time PCR-based methods of SYBR Green and TaqMan to detect the virus and have been tested in laboratories as well as on a patient sample. These kits are robust and provide an accurate diagnosis. The development of the new kits was announced by Minister of Science and Technology, Fawad Chaudhry while addressing Global Development Workshops organized by the UK-Pakistan Science Innovation Global Network (UPSIGN)
Coronavirus in Pakistan: Pakistan has a total of 193 confirmed cases as of Tuesday afternoon. Over 150 of these cases are in Sindh, with Punjab’s tally reaching six on Tuesday. Pakistan government has closed down all educational institutions till April 5 and banned all public gatherings for at least three weeks to control the spread of the virus which has an incubation period of 14 days. The fifth edition of the Pakistan Super League was indefinitely postponed after a cricketer showed symptoms of COVID-19. According to the federal government, free of cost testing for coronavirus is being conducted across the country. Most district headquarter hospitals and tertiary care hospitals have the equipment to collect samples and send them for testing to a designated facility that has coronavirus testing equipment.