Threat of Delta Plus variant: Genome Sequencing Lab to come up at MMC&RI

Threat of Delta Plus variant: Genome Sequencing Lab to come up at MMC&RI

June 27, 2021

Mysore/Mysuru: Amid rising concerns over mutations and a surge in COVID-19 cases, especially the more potential Delta Plus variant, a Genome Sequencing Lab will be set up at Mysore Medical College and Research Institute (MMC&RI) (K.R. Hospital) to test samples that mutate. 

At present, only National Institute of Mental Health and Neurosciences (NIMHANS) in Bengaluru has such a laboratory and all samples are being sent there. State Health Minister Dr. K. Sudhakar has already announced that six Genome Sequencing Labs are being set up at Bengaluru, Mysuru, Shivamogga, Hubballi, Mangaluru and Vijayapura.  

Confirming about the Genome Sequencing Lab at MMC&RI, Dean and Director  Dr. C.P. Nanjaraj told Star of  Mysore this morning that the laboratory will be set up next to the state-of-the-art Viral Research and Diagnostic Laboratory (VRDL) at the Department of Microbiology. “The Microbiology Lab will be extended and the nearby Skin Ward will be taken in to form the laboratory. The door between the Skin Ward and the VRDL has to be opened,” he explained. 

This lab will later be added to Indian SARS-CoV-2 Genomic Consortia (INSACOG) network. This is to ramp up genome sequencing of the virus and help understand the spread of new variants in the country. INSACOG is a consortium of laboratories that screens samples from States and international travellers to understand the spread and mutations of SARS-CoV-2 virus. 

Dr. C.P. Nanjaraj said that each sample takes over 15 days to test mutations. “Meetings have to be held with the State authorities on the equipment and staffs to the Genome Sequencing Lab. Research-oriented scientists have to be appointed for the advanced laboratory and unlike other laboratories, just technical qualification is not adequate for this specialised and scientific work,”                                  he explained. 

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The strand variations will be studied at the laboratory and we need specialists who have M.Sc., Ph.D. and microbiologists for this skilled job. “When a virus is widely circulating in a population and causing many infections, the likelihood of the virus mutating increases. The normal COVID tests do not study sequencing. Even the treatment protocol for COVID, Delta and Delta Plus variants are different and that is why we need specialists,” Dr. Nanjaraj added.


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