WORLD – The Institute of liver and Biliary Services will now have the privilege to house a second genome sequencing facility in India after the Chief minister of India, Arvind Kejriwal inaugurated its launch.

This facility alongside the other one launched at Lok Nayak Hospital will reduce India’s dependency on National Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) when it comes to testing of samples.

ILBS facility will be able to sequence nearly all 30000 molecules of SARS CoV2 with the help of the latest machines called NextSeq and MiSeq that can find mutations in any part of the virus.

“The first set of results will come in 4-5 days. The ILBS facility is more advanced that the one at Lok Nayak Hospital. Till now, we were dependent on NCDC and other labs of the central government. Now, we will be able to identify and analyse all Covid-19 variants for any future waves and enable Delhi government to make strategies and advance preparations to avert deaths and infection,” said Kejriwal.

Separately, the UK is set to provide genomic sequencing support to countries that lack capability and capacity to identify, assess and track new SARS-CoV-2 variant among their populations.

The novel coronavirus, which has killed 4 million people globally since it emerged in China in late 2019, mutates around once every few weeks, slower than influenza or HIV, but enough to require tweaks to vaccines.

Public Health England (PHE) has identified the first group of countries to receive COVID-19 genomic sequencing support as part of the New Variant Assessment Platform (NVAP).

The NVAP was developed by PHE in April 2021 and will be advanced by the new UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA).

Among the first countries to be provided support through the NVAP include Brazil, Ethiopia, Kenya, Nigeria and Pakistan.

Although the support for each country will be tailored, it will include reagents and equipment to boost in-country sequencing, technical advice, bioinformatics support and training.

As the PHE receives more requests for assistance under the NVAP, the body is set to have the program extended to cater for the growing need of this service it is providing.

Genome sequencing is a type of technology scientists use to decode genes and learn about a virus for instance, a SARS-CoV-2 genome encodes instructions organized into sections, called genes, to build the virus, the genes are what scientist try to study.

Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), believe that in order to impact better understanding of viruses especially the SARS-CoV-2 virus, genome sequencing will play a key role in genomic surveillance.