No decline in genome sequencing to analyse coronavirus, says govt

By: |
September 07, 2021 1:15 AM

Genome sequencing is being carried out by the Indian SARS-CoV-2 Consortium on Genomics (INSACOG), a consortium of 28 labs. INSACOG had sequenced 16,681 samples in April, 14,112 in May, 11,624 in June and 10,202 in July, the government said, responding to reports of a decline in sequencing.

“The [number of] samples sequenced by labs of INSACOG consortium also depends on the samples sent by the respective states,” the government said.“The [number of] samples sequenced by labs of INSACOG consortium also depends on the samples sent by the respective states,” the government said.

The government has denied that there has been a decline in genome sequencing and analysis of the novel coronavirus in the country.

Genome sequencing is being carried out by the Indian SARS-CoV-2 Consortium on Genomics (INSACOG), a consortium of 28 labs. INSACOG had sequenced 16,681 samples in April, 14,112 in May, 11,624 in June and 10,202 in July, the government said, responding to reports of a decline in sequencing.

“The [number of] samples sequenced by labs of INSACOG consortium also depends on the samples sent by the respective states,” the government said.

According to the government, the initial part sequencing of samples by INSACOG labs was aimed at detecting the ‘variants of concern’ (VOC) among incoming international travellers and to see if any person with VOC has entered the country in the previous month. To detect the presence of VOC within the country, only 5% of the RT-PCR positive cases were targeted for sequencing. Both objectives were achieved by January-end.

States including Maharashtra, Punjab and Delhi started showing rising trends in February and hence sequencing was increased in several districts of Maharashtra and 10 districts of Punjab.

Sentinel surveillance made sure samples from each state were geographically well-represented as the 5% of random sampling strategy resulted in samples from certain districts being over-represented, while some districts remained unrepresented, the government said. “With the decrease in positivity, the sample availability from the sentinel sites catering to districts with zero or single-digit weekly new cases has also gone down. Currently, over 86 districts in the country have zero weekly new cases,” the government said.

For the past one month, a majority of the new cases are from only two states: Kerala and Maharashtra. At present, of the 45,000 new cases, more than 32,000 cases are from Kerala and over 4,000 cases from Maharashtra, which means that 80% cases are from the two states. Only 9,000 cases, or around 20%, are from the remaining states. This is also reflected in the samples sequenced from various states.

The government said that since July, data regarding samples and results were being shared through the Integrated Health Information Platform (IHIP). Details and results of 9,066 samples were sent in July and 6,969 samples in August via the IHIP, the government said.

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