On the new Covid 19 variant & why surveillance still matters

Wastewater surveillance

In times when the viral case load is down and people do not get themselves tested, there are limits to which surveillance is possible. If clinical data from patients is not adequate, scientists and researchers turn to testing the viral load in the sewerage or waste water samples. Based on such a study, Dr Rakesh K Mishra, director, Tata Institute for Genetic and Society (TIGS), India, says, “wastewater surveillance has not picked the new SARS-CoV-2 (medical lingo for Covid-19) variant (BA 2.86) in our study going on in Bengaluru city. Also, there are report that this variant has not been found on other studies. This does not mean that it does not exist in India, more extensive surveillance may reveal more accurate situation in coming days and weeks.”

Dr Mishra, who was earlier the director at the Centre for Cellular and Molecular Biology, says “overall, case load seems to be low (like baseline) and there is no indication of any other clinical aspect (more severe symptom) and therefore at present not much to worry but it will good to keep an eye on how virus is evolving.”

Surveillance is also done by INSACOG (Indian SARS-CoV-2 Genomic Consortium), a consortium of 54 laboratories to monitor the genomic variations in the SARS-CoV-2. It is a pan-India network. The INSACOG is a joint effort by the health ministry, department of biotechnology along with the Council for Scientific & Industrial Research (CSIR) and the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR).

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