New Push To Defeat Covid-19: India Wants To Expand Its Genomic Sequencing Capabilities To Neighbouring Countries

by Bhaswati Guha Majumder - Feb 16, 2022 03:25 PM +05:30 IST
New Push To Defeat Covid-19: India Wants To Expand Its Genomic Sequencing Capabilities To Neighbouring CountriesNew push for genome sequencing.
  • Stepping up its war on Covid-19, India has said that it is ready to expand its genomic sequencing capabilities to neighbouring countries.

As part of the fight against Covid-19, India stated earlier this week that it is ready to expand its SARS-CoV-2 Genomics Consortium (INSACOG) network of facilities for genomic sequencing and surveillance in the neighbouring countries.

INSACOG is a consortium of 38 laboratories, initiated by the Union Health Ministry, the Department of Biotechnology (DBT), the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) and the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR), to monitor genomic variations in the SARS-CoV-2 virus.

Foreign Secretary Harsh Vardhan Shringla made this offer during his presentation at the Covid-19 Global Action Meeting, which was convened by the United States Secretary of State Antony Blinken. This meeting was also attended by foreign ministers and senior representatives from a number of countries and international organisations.

Reportedly, Shringla represented India at the conference because External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar was on an official tour abroad.

Blinken hosted the meeting to coordinate pandemic response efforts, especially in the areas of immunisation, supply chain resilience and improving global health security architecture.

However, according to reports, it is believed that as per Shringla, India will band together with like-minded nations and the World Health Organization (WHO) to enhance sub-optimal approval, as well as regulatory processes that obstruct reliable and regular supplies.

Additionally, it was said that India will endeavour to see that the TRIPS waiver that it co-sponsored with South Africa, is implemented to diversify local manufacturing in regional markets.

During the pandemic, India provided 17 training modules to more than 60 nations as part of its development assistance package.

However, according to the Foreign Secretary, India will use its experience in testing, treating and vaccinating a large population spread across various geographies and terrains to develop customised and tailored capacity building and technical training programmes for front-line and healthcare workers in Asia, Africa and Latin America.

As reported, according to some people familiar with the discussion at the meeting, Shringla stated that India has given CoWIN as an open-source digital public good and is in talks with WHO to sign a Memorandum of Understanding or MoU to share the platform globally through WHO's C-TAP (COVID Technology Access Pool) project.

Shringla noted that India has vaccinated nearly 1.7 billion people, covering 70 per cent of the adult population and the CoWIN has handled up to 25 million daily immunisations.

According to reports, Shringla said that India had provided over 162 million vaccine doses to 97 nations and two UN organisations. He reportedly also cited New Delhi's humanitarian support to Myanmar and Afghanistan.

As per those sources, India's Foreign Secretary stated that the country is working with its QUAD partners to distribute a billion doses across the Indo-Pacific region by 2022.

Shringla focused on the fact that four WHO-approved vaccines, which are Covaxin, Covishield, Covovax and Janssen (Johnson & Johnson jab), as well as three more awaiting approval — for Corbevax, ZyCov-D and Gennova — are being manufactured in India. According to him, India will be able to make 5 billion doses by 2022.

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