Delays in genomic sequencing samples of Kovid patients – to detect virus strains in each case – are due to a lack of funding for chemical reagents, a top health ministry source told NDTV.
Five labs across the country – part of INSACOG, or the Indian SARS-CoV-2 genetics consortium – have been shut down due to a network of 38 people responsible for genome sequencing, sources said.
Sources further say that this lack of reagents – a substance added to the sample to cause a chemical reaction – is becoming a problem as the government seeks to identify cases of more contagious omikron strains so that it can isolate and contain the virus.
Earlier this month, Prime Minister Narendra Modi stressed the importance of genome sequencing at a meeting to review the country’s cowardly situation.
The Prime Minister told Home Minister Amit Shah, Health Minister Mansukh Mandavia and senior government officials, “There is a need for continuous scientific research, including genome sequencing … the virus is constantly evolving.
Overall, however, sequencing is about 40 percent lower than last month, and the more contagious Omicron strain, which is widely reported to be driving the third wave of transmission in India, has only sequenced approximately 25,000 genomes since then. In November.
More than 1.6 million samples have been collected since the outbreak of the COVID-19 epidemic.
In December, the government acknowledged that genome sequencing was not possible for every COVID-19 sample; Dr VK Paul, head of India’s Covid Task Force, told reporters that “adequate systematic sampling is being done” to ensure its use as a “surveillance and tracking tool”.
Similar recognition has been given by state governments, including Maharashtra, which has reported a massive increase in cases during the third wave. State Health Minister Rajesh Tope told NDTV that treating patients is more important than identifying the forms of the coronavirus.
Genome sequencing is the process of determining the DNA sequence of an organism’s genome, or its complete genetic information, completely (or almost completely) at some point in time.
It is the only way to accurately identify several known forms of coronavirus and is also important in monitoring the biological evolution of the novel coronavirus.
This morning, for the first time since May, more than three lakh cases have been registered in India in 24 hours. This includes more than 2,700 new Omicron Covid cases.