Three research institutes have come together to sequence genomes of the SARS Cov-2 virus variants prevalent/evolving in Northeast India.

As per the Indian SARS-CoV-2 Genomics Consortium (INSACOG) database, out of the total SARS-CoV-2 genomes sequenced from samples all over India, only 0.71 per cent of genomes have been sequenced from samples originating from Northeast India.

This indicates under-representation and the critical dearth of genome surveillance in the region.

Though sequencing efforts in a sporadic manner have been carried out on Covid-19 samples originating from Northeast India, a concerted effort under the aegis of INSACOG is yet to be undertaken.

Senior officials of theCouncil of Scientific and Industrial Research-North East Institute of Science and Technology (CSIR-NEIST), Jorhat along with the Institute of Bioresources and Sustainable Development (IBSD), Imphal, which is an autonomous institute under Department of Biotechnology (DBT), Government of India and ICMR-Regional Medical Research Centre, NE, Dibrugarh recently met to discuss collaborative strategies and planning for a concerted genome sequencing of SARS-CoV-2.

“This is a move for an in creased monitoring and surveillance of SARS-CoV-2 variants prevalent, circulating, and spreading in the Norteast region,” an official of NEIST said.

CSIR-NEIST director G. Narahari Sastry, DBT-IBSD director Pulok K. Mukherjee and Biswa Jyoti Borkakoti, scientist E of ICMR-RMRCNE along with the team of core scientists for SARS-CoV-2 genome sequencing of the three Regional Genome Sequencing Labs (RGSLs) participated in the brainstorming session.

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Sastry mentioned that CSIR-NEIST had created a state-of-the art genome sequencing facility in its recently established Centre for Infectious Diseases at its Jorhat campus to lead the genome surveillance of SARS-CoV-2 in the northeastern region.

He also mentioned that CSIR-NEIST had an advanced computational facility, which would play a pivotal role in the sequence data analysis.

Sastry called for cooperation from all the eight northeastern states to make the genome sequencing, a success.

In the wake of the sudden emergence of SARS-CoV-2 variant of concern B.1.17, commonly known as the UK variant, the Centre initiated the INSACOG formation for the surveillance of SARS-CoV-2 genome in order to understand the spread and evolution of the virus and to arrest the future spread of this virus in the country.

Smita Bhattacharyya is Northeast Now Correspondent in Jorhat. She can be reached at: