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.
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.