Tamil Nadu is among the few states which have not sent enough samples for genome survey. As per the data released by INSACOG on state-wise samples sent for the survey, Tamil Nadu has sent only 102 samples while Delhi, Haryana have sent more than 1,000 samples each.
Unless more samples are sent, it would be difficult to find whether any new mutant is being transmitted around the state and whether new steps need to be taken to prevent the virus from getting transmitted to more people.
INSACOG website says the genome sequencing done in April in all the labs show that 20.4 per cent of the cases were of B1.1.617 variant, 24.62 per cent were of B1.1.7, while 1.88 per cent are of B.1.351.
Genome sequencing is important, especially during the second phase, when there are emergence of new variants. Genome sequencing identifies a ‘variant of concern’ (VoC) — cause for rise in the number of cases or a spike in the death toll. Following the sequencing report, the governments will have to change their strategy for all protocols — from diagnostics to treatment.
Across the world, scientists have found hundreds of SARS-CoV-2 variants, but only those from the United Kingdom, Brazil and South Africa are classified as VoCs. The rest are called ‘variants of interest’.
In India, there are a little more than 10 labs situated in Delhi, Bhubaneswar, Pune, Hyderabad and Bengaluru where the samples are tested.
Indian health ministry officials initially denied that any VoC has originated in the country or that it has fuelled the recent surge in cases. But all three VoCs have been found in India in 795 cases.
Data shows Tamil Nadu has so far sent 102 samples and out which 65 genomes have been sequenced. “As of now, our main attention is to save people who have been infected with the virus. All wings of the health department are involved in providing beds, oxygen and medicines as the positive cases increase. We are aware of the importance of genome sequencing but once all the above problems are settled, we will send more samples,” said a senior health department official.
The official also said the department is aware about the variant which is going around in the state and will not miss if there is any other new variant or mutant as Chennai-based King’s Institute is also testing samples.
While Kerala has sent more than 3,000 samples, all labs put together have received 19,092 samples from 28 states out of which 13,555 samples have been analysed.