The health ministry has charted a detailed action plan which the genomic surveillance consortium (INSACOG) would follow if the new Coronavirus variant, which is more infectious, is detected in the samples of returnees from the UK.
According to the consortium’s action plan, in case the UK variant or any other variant mutation is detected in any sample, the virus will be sent to any of the two notified Covid Virus Repositories at RCB- Faridabad or NIV, Pune for isolating the virus and further culturing.
“This can then be shared as per notified guidelines for development of assays, which will help in validation of diagnostics and also testing of the vaccines under development. The molecular surveillance will be closely linked with the epidemiological surveillance and clinical specimens will also be collected for relevant clinical correlations,” the INSACOG said.
The 10 regional genome sequencing laboratories spread across the country will cater to the nearest states, which will send 5% of the positive samples to these labs for genome sequencing. The viral genome sequencing data generated by regional genome sequencing laboratories will be sent to the National Centre for Disease Control (NCDC), Delhi for collation and integration.
Further, the relevant case details and travel details of any sample detected with the new UK variant, or any other found to be of significance from public health perspective, will be communicated to NCDC (Director) Nodal Unit. No details shall be revealed before due approval by the competent authority.
All the genomic sequencing data will be maintained in a national database at two sites, National Institute of Biomedical Genomics, Kalyani (West Bengal), and Institute of Genomics and Integrative Biology, New Delhi.
Apart from ascertaining the current status of the new variant of Sars-Cov-2 virus, the project also aims to establish sentinel surveillance for early detection of genomic variants with public health implications and to determine genomic variants in unusual events or trends such as super-spreader events.