(Image Credit: AP)
Government of Maharashtra Friday announced that it was initiating the genome sequencing of the novel coronavirus for its variants by sending the samples from the state to the CSIR-Institute of Genomics and Integrative Biology (IGIB). In an official order known as the Government Resolution (GR), the Maharashtra government said that it was dispatching samples from at least 25 COVID-19 patients across different districts every week to the institute for extracting the SARS-CoV-2 genome data, that would help better understand how the variants were spreading across India’s commercial hub. According to a PTI report, the government said that India’s 'double mutation' virus was first detected in the samples of the COVID-19 patients from Yavatmal and Amravati.
Samples from at least two eastern Maharashtra districts were already sent to the B J Medical College in Pune for further research and analysis. The process would incur a total estimated cost of Rs 1.62 crore, which will be used from the Chief Minister's Relief Fund. The genome sequencing of the coronavirus would be conducted in three rounds for over three months to know more about the SARS-CoV-2 pathogenicity and its mutations via epidemiological surveillance. The institute would derive more information about the Indian variants from the clinical samples by studying the virus’s genetic material. According to multiple scientists, the sequence of the viral genome is extremely necessary to identify clusters of cases and effectively manage the outbreak.
“Genomic sequencing allows scientists to identify SARS-CoV-2 and monitor how it changes over time into new variants, understand how these changes affect the characteristics of the virus, and use this information to better understand how it might impact health,” as per Centers of Disease Control and Prevention.
On WHO’s data-sharing platform known as GISAID, scientists have recognized as many as 450,000 genomes, which they identified as a “game-changer” in the pandemic. Chief scientist of the World Health Organisation (WHO), Soumya Swaminathan says that genome sequencing would help the community understand the coronavirus and its new variants. Earlier, similarly, southern state of Kerala had started sending samples to IGIB affiliated to the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR), for genome sequencing of the coronavirus to be able to understand its genetic variations and control the spread accordingly.