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Maharashtra: 746 samples from 21 districts underwent genome sequencing in Oct-Nov, Omicron ruled out

🔴 Covid-positive samples were sequenced from across 21 districts of Maharashtra, and the dominant variant continues to be Delta and its sub-lineages, Dr Rajesh Karyakarte, Maharashtra coordinator for genome sequencing, told The Indian Express.

Written by Anuradha Mascarenhas | Pune |
Updated: December 15, 2021 7:45:19 am
According to experts, so far, there does not seem to be any community transmission. However, data is awaited of more than 400 samples that are presently being sequenced. (Express File Photo)

While the Omicron variant of Covid-19 was first reported to the World Health Organisation from South Africa on November 24, following which it was designated as a ‘variant of concern’, experts here had already enhanced genome sequencing efforts to identify different variants of the infection.

As part of an agreement between the Maharashtra government and New Delhi-based Council of Industrial and Scientific Research – Institute of Genomic and Integrative Biology, as many as 746 samples sequenced in October-November have ruled out presence of Omicron variant.

Covid-positive samples were sequenced from across 21 districts of Maharashtra, and the dominant variant continues to be Delta and its sub-lineages, Dr Rajesh Karyakarte, Maharashtra coordinator for genome sequencing, told The Indian Express.

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“Given the continuous evolution of the virus and its variants, our plan is to step up testing of samples and ensure targeted accelerated sequencing if a sudden rise in cases is noted,” he said.

So far, Maharashtra has reported 28 cases of Omicron variant and these are cases with history of international travel and their close contacts. While community transmission of the Omicron variant has been reported across over 60 countries, there was concern about whether the variant had “sneaked in quietly”.

However, experts at B J Medical College, along with a Pune consortium for genomic sequencing, also did not find any presence of the Omicron variant in 919 out of 1,400 samples tested mainly from Pune and Ahmednagar.

Genome sequencing was initiated at B J Medical College with the help of National Centre for Cell Science early in the pandemic with the signing of an MoU then in June 2020. Subsequently, the Pune consortium for genome sequencing was formed and it included key national institutions like National Institute of Virology, National Centre for Cell Science, National Chemical Laboratory and Indian Institute for Science Education and Research.

According to experts, so far, there does not seem to be any community transmission. However, data is awaited of more than 400 samples that are presently being sequenced.

State Surveillance Officer Dr Pradeep Awate also said that Delta and its sub-lineages continue to be the dominant variant. This exercise is a continuous one and according to state Health Department officials, Covid-positive samples that are clinically relevant are being prioritised for sequencing.

 

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