COBAS 6800: India’s first automated COVID-19 testing machine

On May 14, 2020, the Union Health Minister Dr Harsh Vardhan dedicated the COBAS 6800 RT PCR machine to the nation.

Highlights

The machine is completely automated and performs high end RT-PCR tests. The machine will help to increase the testing capacity of the country. It has been placed at National Centre for Disease Control, Delhi. The machine can also detect pathogens such as Hepatitis, Chlamydia, HIV, Papiloma, MTb, Chlamydia, CMV, Neisseria, etc.

The machine will provide high volume tests. It is capable of providing test results of 1,200 samples in 24 hours. Thus, the machine will help in increasing the testing capacity of the country.

The machine is enabled with robotics. It will help minimize contamination as it involves very little human intervention. It is the first machine in India that is completely automatic.

Why is it placed in NCDC?

The machine has been placed in NCDC as it requires Basic Safety Level 2 testing facilities. There are 4 Bio-Safety levels that are followed in the country

The Biosafety level 2 are enforced in those laboratories that work with agents that are associated with human disease. These laboratories should have appropriate PPE (Personal Protective Equipment), gloves, sink, eye wash. Bio hazard warning signs, self-lockable doors, etc.

Background

The machine was developed by Roche Diagnostics. The main objective of developing the machine is to increase testing capacity of India. So far India is using the rapid antibody test kits only for surveillance. RT-PCR tests are being used to confirm COVID-19 infection as it is more accurate.

However, RT-PCR takes minimum of 5 to 6 hours to produce results. Therefore, it becomes important to bring more such machines in the country to increase testing capacity of India.

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