Rajiv Gandhi Centre for Biotechnology (RGCB), an autonomous research institute under the Department of Biotechnology, said it will conduct genome sequencing of the Covid-19 virus to have a better understanding of coronavirus mutations in Kerala.
Genome sequencing is done to ascertain whether the novel coronavirus gained any mutation in the state, which has got patients from China, UAE, Italy, and UK. Besides, positive cases include people who are primary contacts of persons with overseas travel history.
Dr B Ekbal, State Planning Board member and chairman of the expert committee for advising the government on Covid-19, said genome sequences has much significance as it would be useful for contact tracing of the affected persons as well as for developing vaccine.
Senior RGCB scientist Dr Sreekumar E said, “we would soon start the genome sequencing of the virus. The state health department has agreed to share the samples of the positive cases. We are also in touch with several other institutes for this process.’’
He said sequencing is very important to know about the nature of the virus that was found in patients who have landed from various countries. The sequencing would reveal whether the virus found in patients in Kerala is the same found elsewhere or if it has any mutation. The length of the genome of a virus sample would comprise 30,000 base pair letters. The sequencing would be done after taking several samples at one stretch. Apart from sequencing, the process would involve bio-informatics analysis, he said.
Dr Sreekumar said the National Institute of Virology-Pune has already submitted a few genome sequences. Besides, around 300 genome sequences of coronavirus have been done across the world. “When we look into these data of sequences from various affected countries, we understand that the virus has got differences. But, it is too early to make a detailed analysis,’’ he said.
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