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COVID-19 update | Government identifies 10 labs to monitor genomic variations in Sars-Cov-2

The government will maintain all the genomic sequencing data in its national database at two sites including West Bengal's National Institute of Biomedical Genomics and New Delhi's Institute of Genomics and Integrative Biology.

December 28, 2020 / 04:11 PM IST
File image: A ground staff walks past a container kept at the Cargo Terminal 2 of Delhi's Indira Gandhi International Airport, which according to the officials will be used as a COVID-19 vaccine handling and distribution center. (Image: Reuters/Anushree Fadnavis)

File image: A ground staff walks past a container kept at the Cargo Terminal 2 of Delhi's Indira Gandhi International Airport, which according to the officials will be used as a COVID-19 vaccine handling and distribution center. (Image: Reuters/Anushree Fadnavis)

Prime Minister Narendra Modi-led government on December 28 released a guidance document as part of its surveillance strategy to monitor the genomic variations in the Sars-Cov-2 virus that causes coronavirus disease (Covid-19) on genomic sequencing. The Union government also identified 10 advanced regional laboratories to serve as regional hub laboratories for this purpose.

Along with this, the union health ministry has also established Indian Sars-CoV-2 Genomics Consortium (INSACOG) aiming to oversee the surveillance work on a regular basis, reported Hindustan Times.

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The government will maintain all the genomic sequencing data in its national database at two sites including West Bengal's National Institute of Biomedical Genomics and New Delhi's Institute of Genomics and Integrative Biology.

Through the project, the ministry is aimed at establishing sentinel surveillance for the early detection of genomic variants with public health implications. Also, determining genomic variants in unusual events or trends such as super-spreader events will also be ensured with this project.

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COVID-19 Vaccine

Frequently Asked Questions

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How does a vaccine work?

A vaccine works by mimicking a natural infection. A vaccine not only induces immune response to protect people from any future COVID-19 infection, but also helps quickly build herd immunity to put an end to the pandemic. Herd immunity occurs when a sufficient percentage of a population becomes immune to a disease, making the spread of disease from person to person unlikely. The good news is that SARS-CoV-2 virus has been fairly stable, which increases the viability of a vaccine.

How many types of vaccines are there?

There are broadly four types of vaccine — one, a vaccine based on the whole virus (this could be either inactivated, or an attenuated [weakened] virus vaccine); two, a non-replicating viral vector vaccine that uses a benign virus as vector that carries the antigen of SARS-CoV; three, nucleic-acid vaccines that have genetic material like DNA and RNA of antigens like spike protein given to a person, helping human cells decode genetic material and produce the vaccine; and four, protein subunit vaccine wherein the recombinant proteins of SARS-COV-2 along with an adjuvant (booster) is given as a vaccine.

What does it take to develop a vaccine of this kind?

Vaccine development is a long, complex process. Unlike drugs that are given to people with a diseased, vaccines are given to healthy people and also vulnerable sections such as children, pregnant women and the elderly. So rigorous tests are compulsory. History says that the fastest time it took to develop a vaccine is five years, but it usually takes double or sometimes triple that time.

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As per the research conducted by the United Kingdom researchers, the mutated viruses leads to the emergence of new variants and are more transmissible than previously circulating variants.

Though there is no experimental evidence or indication of increased infection severity with the mutated COVID-19 virus, estimated increased transmissibility of up to 70 percent has been cautioned by the authorities. Countries like Denmark, Belgium Netherlands and Australia have reported some of the new UK variant of Sars-Cov-2 cases.
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