- Different variants have been detected through the whole genome sequencing
- Few of detected variants have contributed to surges in many places: Centre
- Analysis of the genomic data is a continuous and ongoing process: Centre
New Delhi: An Indian genomics consortium has sequenced over 57,000 SARS-CoV-2 genomes out of which nearly 45,000 samples have been analysed, assigned pangolin lineage classification and submitted for public health correlation, Rajya Sabha was informed on Tuesday (July 27). Different variants have been detected through the whole genome sequencing activities undertaken by Indian SARS CoV2 Genomic Consortium (INSACOG) and the information so obtained has been regularly shared with states and union territories to strengthen their public health response to the pandemic, Union Health Minister Mansukh Mandaviya said in a written reply.
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The government had established INSACOG in December 2020 which is a consortium of 28 laboratories for whole genome sequencing and surveillance of SARS-CoV-2 variants in the light of sudden outbreak of the new coronavirus variant in the UK.
National Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) is the coordinating agency for the consortium.
The Indian SARS-CoV-2 Genomics Consortium (INSACOG), since inception has sequenced 57,476 SARS-CoV-2 genomes out of which 44,334 samples have been analyzed and assigned Pangolin lineage classification and submitted to the National Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) for public health correlation. It is also observed that few of the detected variants have contributed to surges across various regions. Further, other variants are also being monitored by INSACOG for their potential role in disease transmission dynamics, Mr Mandaviya said in the written reply.
As there have been reports of new variants being associated with COVID-19 surge in many countries, the need was felt to augment the genome sequencing capacity of the laboratories.
Accordingly, the network of INSACOG laboratories has now been increased to 28 labs. Currently, the turn-around time from sample collection to sequencing data generation and variant calling is two weeks, the minister informed. The INSACOG has revised SOPs to reduce turnaround time to 7-10 days, the reply said.
Analysis of the genomic data is a continuous and ongoing process. Periodic updates are shared with experts and are also made available in the public domain through the weekly media bulletin of INSACOG. In order to ensure timely availability of reports and to ensure smooth flow of information among stakeholders, MoHFW has recently brought whole genome sequencing (WGS) related data on IDSP-IHIP portal. The results are immediately made available to the states and their sentinel sites as soon as they are uploaded by the INSACOG Genome Sequencing Lab, the reply stated.
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NDTV – Dettol Banega Swasth India campaign is an extension of the five-year-old Banega Swachh India initiative helmed by Campaign Ambassador Amitabh Bachchan. It aims to spread awareness about critical health issues facing the country. In wake of the current COVID-19 pandemic, the need for WASH (Water, Sanitation and Hygiene) is reaffirmed as handwashing is one of the ways to prevent Coronavirus infection and other diseases. The campaign highlights the importance of nutrition and healthcare for women and children to prevent maternal and child mortality, fight malnutrition, stunting, wasting, anaemia and disease prevention through vaccines. Importance of programmes like Public Distribution System (PDS), Mid-day Meal Scheme, POSHAN Abhiyan and the role of Aganwadis and ASHA workers are also covered. Only a Swachh or clean India where toilets are used and open defecation free (ODF) status achieved as part of the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan launched by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in 2014, can eradicate diseases like diahorrea and become a Swasth or healthy India. The campaign will continue to cover issues like air pollution, waste management, plastic ban, manual scavenging and sanitation workers and menstrual hygiene.