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Indian military lab develops kit to detect swine flu in hours

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New Delhi: In a major breakthrough in detecting the deadly swine flu virus that killed around 2,000 people in India in an outbreak this year, a key military research centre has developed a kit that can detect the virus in a matter of hours.

While current tests to detect the swine flu virus takes two to three days, the new kit delivers results in two to three hours, knowledgeable officials in the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) told.

Developed by the Gwalior-based Defence Research and Development Establishment (DRDE), the kit will also be cost-effective and is expected to be priced at around Rs.2,000 ($30), while the present tests can cost anything between Rs.4,500 and Rs.10,000 in the peak season.

“While conventional identification methods require time-consuming culturing and detection of anti-bodies, this kit uses a gene amplification method and is based on the principle of auto-cyclic strand displacement mechanism,” a DRDO official aware of the developments told on condition of anonymity as he is not authorised to speak to the media.

The DRDO, which leads defence research in the country, focussed on developing the kit in view of possible enhanced use of chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear warfare (CBRN) in future, the official said.

“In case of a biological weapon being used, the first step to combat this is detection. Handy kits like these are being developed keeping that in mind,” the official said.

Asked if the kit can be used on a large scale, the official said some firms have already been given the technology to develop the kits.

“Our role is to develop the technology. We have already handed it over to some interested manufacturers. It will now be up to the government to decide if it wants to use it at a larger level,” the official added.

Swine flu has claimed well over two thousand lives in India till March this year with the total number of cases crossing the 33,000 mark, according to the health ministry. Rajasthan and Gujarat were the worst affected states.

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Rahul Gandhi: Accepting Less Than Scrapping Farm Laws Will Be Deceit To Farmers

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The Congress has stepped up the demand of immediately scrapping the farm laws in the wake of the farmers’ protest in the national capital. Congress leader Rahul Gandhi said in a tweet,”Accepting less than scrapping of three black farm laws will be deceit to farmers and the country.”

The Congress leader’s reaction comes even as the meeting between the farmers and the government is going on to resolve the issue.

Talks between the Centre and over 34 farmer union representatives has started here, even as the farmers protest entered the eighth straight day with thousands sitting on different Delhi borders blocking essential supply chains to the city.

Like the previous round of talks held on December 1, Union Agriculture Minister Narendra Tomar and Consumer Affairs, Food and Public Distribution Minister Piyush Goyal are leading the meeting, which is expected to play a major role in farmers’ future course of action on whether they would continue the protest or withdraw it.

The Bharatiya Kisan Union, Bharatiya Kisan Sanyukta Morcha and Krantikari Kisan Union are among over the 34 farm union representatives taking part in the meeting, which started around 12.30 p.m.

The fourth round of meetings with the farmer leaders started at Vigyan Bhawan after the earlier talks remained inconclusive on December 1.

In the last meeting, the farmers’ representatives had unanimously rejected the Centre’s proposal of a special committee to resolve concerns over the farm laws.

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