Hyderabad: Telangana appears to be lagging behind some other states in sending Rt-PCR samples from Covid19 tests for genome sequencing. Five such samples were sequenced from the state in August. Genome sequencing is important as it will help predict the third wave.
This was despite repeated reminders from the Centre to send samples for genome sequencing. A doctor at the Gandhi Hospital said, “A system is not in place for sending the samples. We collect and keep them with us. Only when the clearance comes from the state health department can we send them for sequencing.”
The Central government has again asked all states to send the samples as only Maharashtra, Kerala and Punjab are sending them regularly.
There were five sequenced samples from Telangana in August, 595 samples in July, 476 in June, 1,033 in May and 704 in April. Sample sequencing is done at the Centre for Cellular and Molecular Biology and the Centre for DNA Fingerprinting and Diagnosis in the state.
According to sources, samples from government hospitals are collected and sent for sequencing. Gandhi Hospital is the main source from where test results of RT-PCR are sent.
Hyderabad is the biggest contributor in terms of samples. More than 100 samples from Rajiv Gandhi International Airport are collected every month and sequenced separately. These are monitored directly by the Central health ministry.
Warangal, Karimnagar and Nalgonda are also the districts from where samples are sent regularly.
According to government sources, sample collection for genome sequencing is based on two conditions – one, where the symptoms are different from the defined symptoms of Covid19. Two, when there are constant reminders from laboratories to send samples – and they are sent in bulk.
Samples from private hospitals are not collected by the government. Private hospitals send it directly to CCMB and pay for the genome sequencing.
Mostly, the samples are collected and sent in the middle or the end of the month and systems are not updated. Due to such technical errors, it does not show and this is added much later, explained a technician.
The Central health ministry has asked all states to regularly send samples — at least 2,000 to 3,000 — for sequencing. A scientist at CCMB says, “We cannot use the machines and re-agents on samples that are less than 100. These are costly imported chemicals. When we get bulk samples, the testing is taken up.”
The Central government, in its data released on Monday, stated that 6,458 samples were sequenced in the country in August, 6,990 in July, 12,257 in June and 10,488 in May this year.
There are a total of 30 designated laboratories carrying out genome sequencing to track the variants of concern.
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