KOLKATA: One of Bengal’s two institutes that can track mutants or variants of the SARS-CoV-2 virus has run out of reagents and is expected to resume its genome sequencing activities next week when supplies resume.
Sequencing work has been stalled at the laboratory of the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research-Indian Institute of Chemical Biology (CSIR-IICB) Kolkata for about three weeks now. The last samples it tested was on December 24. The lab at Salt Lake, however, hopes to get its reagent supply by Monday.
“We want to resume our genomic sequencing activities as early as possible. Hopefully, the reagents should reach us in the next few days enabling us to resume our work by early next week. Genome sequencing has become all the more important so that we can keep an eye on emerging variants or mutants of the virus,” said CSIR-IICB director Arun Bandyopadhyay.
The IICB, which had been conducting genome sequencing since the beginning of the pandemic for academic purposes, was recently brought under INSACOG (Indian SARS-CoV-2 Genomics consortium) to scale up sequencing for surveillance as the number of samples that needed to be analyzed swelled. Its lab can run 100 smaples in 48 hours.
The National Institute of Biomedical Genomics (NIBGM) at Kalyani, a nodal unit for genome sequencing in eastern India, was part of the consortium right from the beginning. The NIBMG Kalyani came under huge pressure last month when the Bengal government decided to sequence all Covid positive samples that had CT value within 30 to determine if Omicron had spread in the community. The health department then started sending samples to IICB through the School of Tropical Medicine. Currently about 100 of these samples are waiting to be sequenced.