Govt To Involve Private Labs In Genome Sequencing Process For Detection Of New Coronavirus Variants: Report

by Swarajya Staff - Sep 22, 2021 07:19 AM
Govt To Involve Private Labs In Genome Sequencing Process For Detection Of New Coronavirus Variants: ReportGenome sequencing facility at Lok Nayak Hospital's genetic laboratory in Delhi (Representative image)

In what could provide a big boost to the genomic surveillance of emerging Coronavirus variants in India, the government has decided to involve private sector laboratories in the process of genome sequencing to detect mutation in the SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes Covid-19 disease.

The Indian SARS-CoV-2 Genomic Consortia (INSACOG0, a network of 28 government laboratories set up for genomic surveillance in the country, will now be joined by several selected private laboratories.

"We have now decided to involve private sector laboratories in this process," a senior government official was quoted by Economic Times as saying.

According to the report, the idea behind the move is to significantly improve the capacity as genome sequencing efforts in the country have been slow.

So far, 63,990 samples from across the country have been sequenced between January and September, which comes to an average of around 7,110 samples per month, according to the data from the Department of Biotechnology (DBT), which is the nodal agency for INSACOG.

"The new target is to sequence 80,000 samples in a month," the official said, adding that massive scale-up is required to achieve the target.

According to the report, the decision came after several meetings within the government and with major private labs undertaking genomic research.

The DBT has held discussions with private labs including New Delhi-based Mahajan Imaging and Premas Life Sciences, Bengaluru-based Strands Life Sciences and Genotypic Technology, Gurgaon-based NMC Genetics India, and Hyderabad-based Mapmygenome India.

The Centre has already drafted standard operating procedures (SOPs) to involve private players.

According to the report, under these SOPs, a private laboratory will apply for accreditation, giving details like capacity to sequence and proposed number of samples to be sequenced. Once the laboratory's application is accepted, it will be linked to a government laboratory which will supply a positive sample from a patient to the private laboratory.

After the sequencing, the private lab will upload data on the Insacog portal. It will not be allowed to make the results public, sources said.

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