Covid-19: Genome sequencing to focus on clusters in Karnataka

Eighteen sub-lineages of Delta detected in India, need to ramp up genomic surveillance

Published: 03rd November 2021 06:55 AM  |   Last Updated: 07th November 2021 11:46 AM   |  A+A-

A health worker receives a dose of Covid-19 vaccine in Bengaluru

A health worker receives a dose of Covid-19 vaccine in Bengaluru | Shriram BN

Express News Service

BENGALURU: The state will step up its Covid-19 genomic sequencing, after two samples of the AY.4.2 variant were detected in Bengaluru. State Health Commissioner Randeep D told TNIE that genome sequencing of samples from cluster outbreaks and breakthrough infections will be done.

“We need to pick up the right samples for genomic sequencing, for which we need to choose areas where clusters are forming, and samples of those who have tested positive, despite being vaccinated against Covid-19. The fear of the third wave is with regard to the possibility of a new variant emerging. Hence, we need to catch it early,” Randeep said.

He said he will discuss the issue with the state Covid-19 Genomic Surveillance Committee. Recently, the AY.4.2 variant was detected only two months after the patients tested positive, by which time they had already recovered. Therefore, there is a need to get the results of sequencing early on, he informed.

There are 118 sub-lineages of Delta, of which 18 have been noted in India. Covid-19 vaccines are said to be only 60 per cent effective against the Delta variant, said Dr Vishal Rao, member of the state Genomic Surveillance Committee and chief of Head and Neck Surgical Oncology and Robotic Surgery at HCG Cancer Centre.

“It is prudent for us to be active and alert. The next three months will be crucial as there are socio-economic events, so we need to ramp up vigilance through genomic surveillance. We are in touch with genome sequencing experts from the US and UK to map and detect any variants, so we don’t experience another Covid-19 wave,” Dr Rao explained.

He added that the current level of genomic sequencing is parallel to the positivity rate, and is a model for other lower middle income countries to follow. There is optimisation of resources, collaboration between government and private agencies, and a public health response merged with high-end technology, Dr Rao shared.

The maximum number of genomic sequencing samples so far have been from the Delta variant with 1,698 cases, followed by 300 cases of various Delta sub-lineages. Apart from targeted testing, Randeep said the state intends to take up random Covid-19 testing during the festival season.


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