First Pan-India 1000 Genome sequencing of SARS-CoV-2 completed
Union Minister for Science & Technology and Health & Family Welfare Harsh Vardhan announcing the successful completion of the first Pan-India 1000 Genome sequencing of SARS-CoV-2 at a meeting with the Department of Biotechnology (DBT), on August 1, 2020.

First Pan-India 1000 Genome sequencing of SARS-CoV-2 completed

New Delhi, August 4, 2020

Union Minister for Science & Technology and Health & Family Welfare Harsh Vardhan announced here on Saturday the successful completion of the first Pan-India 1000 Genome sequencing of SARS- CoV-2.

The Minister announced this at a meeting with the Department of Biotechnology (DBT) which reviewed the COVID-19 activities of DBT, Biotechnology Industry Research Assistance Council (BIRAC) and DBT-Autonomous Institutions (AIs).

Dr Harsh Vardhan also launched the largest network of five dedicated COVID-19 Biorepositories established by the DBT in record time, an official press release said.

These are at Translational Health Science and Technology Institute (THSTI) Faridabad, Institute of Life Science (ILS) Bhubaneshwar, Institute of Liver and Biliary Sciences (ILBS) New Delhi, National Centre for Cell Science (NCCS) Pune and Institute for Stem Cell Science and Regenerative Medicine (InStem) Bangalore.

“Given the importance of this information for public health response initiatives requiring investigation into the transmission of COVID-19, the sequence data will soon be released in Global Initiative on Sharing All Influenza Data (GISAID) for use by researchers across the globe,” he said.

“The information in the database will improve our understanding on how the virus is spreading, ultimately helping to interrupt the transmission chains, prevent new cases of infection, and provide impetus to research on intervention measures,” he added.

“The ongoing data analysis may bring out some interesting conclusions to help in our fight against COVID-19,” he added.

He said 16 vaccine candidates were in different stages of development. The BCG Vaccine was undergoing phase 3 trial, Zydus Cadila DNA Vaccine was in phase I / II trial and 4 Vaccine candidates were in advanced stages of the pre-clinical study. Five Good Clinical Laboratory Practice (GCLP) clinical trial sites have been developed and six animal models for Vaccine Development Studies were also ready, he said.

The DBT had launched a Pan India 1000 SARS--CoV-2 RNA Genome Sequencing programme in May this year to be undertaken by the Autonomous Institutes of DBT, collaborating with national laboratories and clinical organizations.

The consortium coordinated by National Institute of Biomedical Genomics (NIBMG-Kalyani), West Bengal and five other national clusters, ILS-Bhubaneswar, Centre for DNA Fingerprinting and Diagnostics (CDFD)-Hyderabad, InStem-National Centre for Biological Sciences (NCBS)-IISc-Bangalore and NCCS-Pune were actively participating in sequencing and analysis.

The collaborating national institutes and clinical organizations involved were ICMR - National Institute of Cholera and Enteric Diseases, Institute of Post-Graduate Medical Education and Research (IPGMER) -Kolkata, IISc-Bangalore, AIIMS- Rishikesh (Uttarakhand), Maulana Azad Medical College (MAMC)-Delhi, THSTI-Faridabad, Grant Medical College (GMC)-Aurangabad, Mahatma Gandhi Institute of Medical Sciences (MGIMS)-Wardha, Armed Forces Medical College (AFMC) and Byramjee Jeejeebhoy Government Medical College (BJMC)-Pune.

The consortium has achieved its initial goal of completing the sequencing of 1000 SARS-CoV-2 genomes from nasopharyngeal and oropharyngeal swabs collected from individuals testing positive for COVID-19 by Real Time PCR. The samples were collected across 10 states covering different zones within India.

DBT is supporting COVID-19 Bio Repositories through a well-strategized plan so that novel technological interventions can be developed in due course of time. The main purpose of these biorepositories were archival of inactivated virus and clinical samples, including naso-oropharyngeal swabs, stool, urine, saliva, serum, plasma, PBMC and Serum.

These designated bio-repositories will use the clinical samples for R&D purpose and are authorized to share the samples with academia, industry and commercial entities involved in the development of diagnostics, therapeutics, vaccines etc., after scrutinising the purpose of the request and ensuring benefit to the country. Standard Operating Procedures (SoPs) for sample collection, transportation, aliquoting, storage and sharing have been developed. As on date, 44,452 clinical samples have been collected and stored in these five centres. More than 5,000 samples have been shared.

During the meeting which was attended by Dr Renu Swarup Secretary DBT and joined through video-links by senior officers of DBT and its Autonomous Institutes, BIRAC and BIBCOL, the Minister was presented an update on the DBT–BIRAC COVID 19 Research Consortia under which more than 150 Research Groups have been supported involving nearly 80 Industry /Academia collaborations, 40 Academic Research Institutes and more than 25 Startup Research Groups.

The consortium has successfully developed 100% self-reliance for producing more than 5 lakh RTPCR diagnostic kits per day. Four technologies of DBT AI's have been transferred to the industry for commercial manufacturing of diagnostic kits. DBT AIs are also providing services for Diagnostic Testing, Kit Validation and Antiviral testing, the release added.

NNN

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