Punjab CM Orders Stepping Up Of Whole Genome Sequencing

Chandigarh: Punjab Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh on Friday asked the concerned departments to step up Whole Genome Sequencing (WGS) to expeditiously identify cases of new Covid variant and to fast track the project for execution of the MoU with ICMR for Regional Institute of Virology, Mohali.

Though no fresh cases of Delta Plus variant (apart from two reported earlier based on May sampling) had been identified in the state, the Chief Minister directed that the Whole Genome Sequencing Lab at GMCH Patiala, coming up with the support of PATH, must become functional this month. PATH has informed that the machine is likely to be installed by 25th July, the Chief Minister was apprised. VRDL GMC Patiala has applied for registration with INSACOG.

Reviewing the Covid situation, the Chief Minister noted with satisfaction that the state was also starting dry swab testing, with a pilot at GMC Patiala next week. Sensitivity of the dry swab variant method is 79% and specificity is 99% when compared with standard RTPCR test as the gold standard. Considering its lesser cost and quick turn-around, the dry swab variant method can be used as a screening tool only in settings where automated RNA extraction is not available.

As per GoI guidelines, Punjab has identified 10 sentinel sites and sending at least 15 samples per site every 15 days for whole genome sequencing. Positive samples of post vaccination, re-infection cases, death cases, severe cases, clustering etc. are being sent for WGS, the meeting was informed.