Genome sequencing tests used in hunting for the mutant strain of the coronavirus take up to 24 hours, the head of the Indian Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) told NDTV on Thursday. Addressing fears about the new variant of the virus that has fueled widespread fears of increased transmissibility, Dr. Shekhar Mande also said that the tested and developed COVID-19 vaccines should be effective against it.
Six laboratories across India will conduct genome sequencing tests to discover the presence of the novel coronavirus mutant strain. Passenger samples tested positive for COVID-19 after arriving from the UK are sent to these laboratories. Two of these laboratories, the Delhi Genomics Institute and the Hyderabad Cell and Molecular Biology Center, fall under the CSIR.
“The process of sending the samples to the labs is still ongoing. It is coordinated by the National Center for Disease Control. Sequencing to detect the presence of the UK strain can be done within a day because sequencing nowadays it has become a routine affair. It will take a day or two at the most, “said Dr. Mande.
The director general of the CSIR said vaccines should be effective on the mutant strain. “Vaccines are very likely to be effective on the mutant strain. Since only a few mutations, about 15-17 of them are present in this strain. The vaccines are made in such a way that they target the virus much larger and to many other parts so that they continue to generate an immune response, “he said.
Asked whether India should perform genome sequencing on a much larger scale, Dr Mande said: ‘There are many aspects to this. Sequence-based surveillance needs to be better. CSIR mitigation strategy for Covid has been going on for some time. We started molecular surveillance in March and continue to perform genome sequencing of viral strains. We also receive specific requests from state governments. For example, Kerala has asked us to continue to perform the genome sequencing of viral strains found in different districts of Kerala. These surveillance strategies are useful. They help detect and isolate individuals early and prevent further spread of the infection. “
Regarding the UK strain, Dr. Mande said: “Some of the mutations found in this strain have also been observed in other geographic areas such as South Africa and Brazil. These mutations occur spontaneously. The ones in South Africa and Brazil were independent of the UK. So this is not. an event limited to the UK. These mutations can also occur in India. “