What’s in the news?
- Recently, the Prime Minister announced that the Indian SARS-CoV-2 Genomics Consortium (INSACOG) would be extended to India’s neighbouring countries.
What is INSACOG?
- INSACOG was established in December 2020 as a joint initiative of the Union Health Ministry of Health and Department of Biotechnology (DBT) (under the Ministry of Science and Technology).
- INSACOG started out with the participation of 10 national research laboratories of the central government. (Dept of Biotechnology, GoI)
- With the help of Council for Scientific & Industrial Research (CSIR) and Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) to expand the whole-genome sequencing of SARS-CoV-2, the coronavirus that causes the Covid-19 disease, across India with the aim of understanding how the virus spreads and evolves.
How it helps?
- It helps to understand super spreader events and outbreaks, and strengthen public health interventions across the country to help break chains of transmission.
- Linking this data with IDSP data and the patient’s symptoms helps to better understand viral infection dynamics, and trends of morbidity and mortality.
- The data can be linked with host genomics, immunology, clinical outcomes, and risk factors for a more comprehensive outlook. Sequencing assumes added significance as the incidence of reinfections and vaccine breakthroughs increases.
- INSACOG is also working to establish a systematic correlation between genome sequencing and clinical outcomes.
- The consortium is working towards establishing a hospital network across the country with the aim to study clinical correlations in mild vs severe cases of Covid-19, and to carry out a longitudinal study to understand long-term post-Covid complications and change in immunity.
- INSACOG is also looking to expand to sewage surveillance as an early detection tool, and to assess the spread of variants in hotspot localities.