Virology labs at Lucknow's CDRI & NBRI now part of Indian Sars Cov-2 Genomic Surveillance Consortium

Virology labs at Lucknow's CDRI & NBRI now part of Indian Sars Cov-2 Genomic Surveillance Consortium

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Premium virology labs at Lucknow's Central Drug Research Institute (CDRI) and National Botanical Research Institute, have been included in the Indian Sars Cov-2 Genomic Surveillance Consortium (INSACOG). This is a grid of 28 laboratories across the country which are collectively studying the variations in the coronavirus genomic makeup. Now the aforementioned labs in Lucknow will also study the mutations of the COVID-19 virus, to mitigate the impact of the expected 'third wave'.

Labs in the city to act as satellite centres for Delhi-based institute

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In a bid to ensure advanced preparedness for public health intervention, the CRDI and NBRI labs in Lucknow have been added to the INSACOG list, which works to correlate the whole genomic sequence (WGS) data for clinical information. The consortium was set up to monitor genomic variations in Sars Cov-2 by the Department of Biotechnology of the Union Health Ministry. Its scope includes conducting research and study to better understand the disease transmission, clinical severity and re-infection or immune escape, vaccine efficacy and available diagnostics tests.

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In an official order issued by the Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, both CDRI and NBRI in Lucknow have been listed as satellites centres for the Institute of Genomics and Integrative Biology in Delhi. "Over the past few months, many variants have been detected through whole-genome sequencing activity undertaken by INSACOG."

"The information obtained has been regularly shared with states and union territories to strengthen public health response to the pandemic. For the exercise to become meaningful, it is necessary that timely clinical data and adequate number of RT-PCR positive samples for genome sequencing and surveillance work is done by states too.", the order stated.

The rise of a mutant may propel the 'third wave'

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Experts have listed genome sequencing as a crucial feat to counter the pandemic, especially amid the fears of the 'third wave'. The novel coronavirus has mutated itself in the past, causing deadlier or increased infection among hosts. On these lines, the impact of any successive infection spike largely depends on the development of a new strain.

Indications are that if no new variant surfaces, the third wave may not be lethal. But if the virus mutates again, the third wave may cause more harm. Officials at the National Diseases Surveillance Programme unit of Uttar Pradesh pointed that samples will now be sent for genome sequencing to the labs in Lucknow, as well. Earlier, a section of samples was being sent to the SGPGI and MGMU hospitals in the state capital.

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