Covid: Genome sequencing of 84,386 cases of VoCs done so far

New Delhi: Union Health Minister Mansukh Mandaviya informed Lok Sabha on Friday that genome sequencing of 84,386 cases of Covid Variants of Concern (VoCs) and 5,606 cases of Variants of Interest (VoIs) have been conducted in the country so far.

Citing data from INSACOG, the minister said these sequencing was conducted as part of the larger set of all sequences done of SARS-CoV-2 virus.

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

"As per the data from INSACOG, 84,386 cases of VoCs and 5,606 cases of VoIs have so far been sequenced in the country, as part of the larger set of all sequences done of SARS-CoV-2 virus," Mandaviya said in written reply to a question.

At present, 52 laboratories across India are working under INSACOG to monitor genomic variations in SARS-CoV-2.

For the sentinel surveillance, nearly 300 sentinel sites are identified to send samples to the regional sequencing labs through the integrated disease surveillance programme network, Mandaviya said.

Sentinel sites are expected to send at least 15 samples every 15 days to the identified lab.

Besides this, in view of threat of new variants, including the recent Omicron variant, entering from abroad, a point-of-entry screening is

also undertaken.

The network carries out whole genome sequencing of SARS-Cov-2 to identify existing Variants of Concern (VoCs), Variants of Interest (VoIs) and new mutations and variants which could help in understanding of correlation of genomic variants with how the virus spreads, disease severity and provide information for public health response.

The Union Ministry of Health is supporting states through technical guidance for managing various aspects of COVID-19, including containment and surveillance, testing, management of co-morbidities, clinical management protocols, besides logistic and funding support to manage the pandemic, Mandaviya stated.

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