The virology labs at Central Drug Research Institute (CDRI) and National Botanical Research Institute (NBRI) in Lucknow have been included in Indian Sars Cov-2 Genomic Surveillance Consortium (INSACOG) — a conglomerate of 28 laboratories across the country.
The consortium was set up by the Union health ministry, department of biotechnology with Council for Scientific Research and Indian Council of Medical Research to monitor genomic variations in Sars Cov-2.
It also works to correlate whole genomics sequencing (WGS) data with clinical/epidemiological data for advance preparedness for public health interventions and better understanding of disease transmission, clinical severity, re-infections/immune escape, vaccine efficacy and available diagnostics tests.
An official order issued by the Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare has listed the two labs as a satellite centre that will work in coordination with Delhi-based Institute of Genomics and Integrative Biology.
The order stated, “Over the past few months, many variants have been detected through whole genome sequencing activity undertaken by INSACOG. The information obtained has been regularly shared with states and union territories to strengthen public health response to the pandemic. For the exercise to become meaningful, it is necessary that timely clinical data and adequate number of RT-PCR positive samples for genome sequencing and surveillance work is done by states too.”
Experts say genome sequencing is crucial to countering the pandemic amid reports of an anticipated third wave and extent of damage will depend on the new strain.
Indications are that if no new variant surfaces, the third wave may not be lethal. But if the virus mutates again, the third wave may cause more harm.
Officials at the National Diseases Surveillance Programme unit of Uttar Pradesh said, samples will now be sent for genome sequencing to these labs as well.
Earlier, a section of Covid-19 samples was being sent to the Sanjay Gandhi Post Graduate Institute of Medical Sciences and King George’s Medical University.