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Private labs to assist in genome sequencing

After much waiting, the government of India has finally decided to involve private laboratories in the process of genome sequencing.

Published: 24th September 2021 06:24 AM  |   Last Updated: 24th September 2021 06:24 AM   |  A+A-

A medic at the Spicehealth Genome Sequencing Laboratory | Shekhar yadav

Express News Service

BENGALURU: After much waiting, the government of India has finally decided to involve private laboratories in the process of genome sequencing. The Indian SARS-CoV-2 Genomic Consortia (INSACOG), established for genomic surveillance in the country in January, has announced that private labs will be allowed to detect new coronavirus variants, so as to significantly scale up genomic surveillance in the country. 

According to a statement by INSACOG, based on interest expressed by some private sector laboratories, a meeting was organised with the labs, after which it was decided to have a standard operating procedure for involvement of private labs which intend to get involved in the process of genome sequencing.

The main players who were part of the meeting were representatives of Mahajan Imaging Private Limited, New  Delhi; Strands Life Sciences, Bengaluru; Genotypic Technology Private Limited, Bengaluru; NMC Genetics India Pvt Ltd, Gurgaon; Mapmygenome India Limited, Hyderabad, and Premas Life Sciences, New Delhi. 

“At the meeting, based on proven expertise and experience of private sector laboratories, it was thought prudent to involve the laboratories for genome sequencing of the Covid-19 virus, and it was decided to have a standard operating procedure for involvement of private sector laboratories,” the statement from INSACOG said.

INSACOG initially consisted of 10 labs, which carried out genomic sequencing of 60,000 positive cases from different states of India, and later, 18 more research laboratories were included in the network. 
“There is a felt need for increasing sequencing efforts further, and target for sequencing about 80,000 samples in a month for identification of variants of concern (VoC) and variants of interest (VoI) in the Indian samples, so as to advise policy makers for effective management of Covid-19. To enhance the sequencing efforts, involvement of private sectors was considered...,” said the statement.

Appreciating the move, Dr Vishal Rao, dean, Centre of Academic Research, HCG Cancer Hospital, and member of the Genome Committee, GoK, said, “It is essential to have wider participation from all stakeholders and scientific experts. This step will further strengthen genomics surveillance programmes, much like the efforts of CDC Spheres, USA, or COG-UK. This will improve infrastructure and technology utilisation across channels to deliver faster and more integrated data, and metadata to assist in using genomics surveillance for public health responses.”



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