WHO: UK Variant of COVID-19 in 41 countries

The World Health Organisation recently announced that the United Kingdom covid-19 variant has been detected in more than 41 countries. The VOC-202012/01 the was first detected in South Africa. This variant is 70% more transmissible than the other covid-19 mutants.

Has VOC-202012/01 reached India?

Yes. Around 38 people have been found infected with the mutant. It has been detected in 10 samples at the National Institute of Mental Health and neurosciences, 11 samples at the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research-Institute of Genomics and Integrative Biology (CSIR-IGIB), three samples at the Centre for Cellular and Molecular Biology, Hyderabad and in 5 samples at the National Institute of Virology, Pune.

Which Indian institute has successfully isolated and cultured the UK covid-19 variant?

National Institute of virology, Pune has successfully isolated VOC-202012/01. It is to test the virus on COVID-19 vaccines that are developed and also on vaccines that are currently under trials in India.

What is India doing to fight against the UK covid-19 variant?

  • As soon as the UK variant covid-19 began to spread to different parts of the world, India temporally suspended all the flights coming from UK.
  • India also made it mandatory to test all the UK return air passengers through RT-PCR.
  • Standard Operating Protocol was issued to the states and union territories to tackle the mutant variant.
  • India launched INSACOG. The identified new covid-19 variant is sent to INSACOG (Indian SARS-CoV-2 Genetic Consortium) labs.

What is INSACOG?

  • INSACOG was launched in the backdrop of the emergence of UK variant. INSACOG aims to accelerate virus surveillance, characterisation and genome sequencing.
  • It is a consortium of ten labs namely DBT-NIBMG, DBT-ILS, ICMR-NIV, DBT-NCCS, CSIR-CCMB, DBT-CDFD, DBT-InSTEM, NIMHANS, CSIR-IGIB and NCDC. These labs are now called INSACOG labs.
  • INSACOG will have inter-ministerial steering committee. The committee will provide guidance and oversight to the Consortium.
  • In future, INSACOG will help in developing vaccines, diagnostics and potential therapeutics.
  • A road map for INSACOG has been prepared by the Department of Biotechnology, CSIR and ICMR.

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