Covid-19: Patiala hospital gets first genome sequencing lab

Covid-19: Patiala hospital gets first genome sequencing lab

Dr Avnish Kumar, Director, Department of Medical Education and Research, Punjab, inaugurates the laboratory at Government Medical College, Patiala. Rajesh Sachar

Tribune News Service

Patiala, December 2

Dr Avnish Kumar, Director, Department of Medical Education and Research, Punjab, inaugurated the first state-run Covid-19 Whole Genome Sequencing (WGS) laboratory at Government Medical College here on November 28.

Dr Harjinder Singh, Director-Principal, Government Medical College, here said the VRDL GMC Patiala laboratory, recognised by the Indian Council of Medical Research as one of top five laboratories in the country for Covid-19 RT-PCR testing capabilities, has processed around 313 genome sequencing samples till date.

He said, “To expand the lab’s existing capability, a team of research assistants and microbiologists, including the lab in-charge, Dr Rupinder Bakshi, has been trained in conducting Covid-19 genome sequencing by a team of specialists from Genotypics, a Bangalore-based sequencing research hub. Also, a US-based not-for-profit organisation, PATH has donated the genome sequencer and supportive equipment as part of its on-going Covid-19 response support to the state.”

The director said that the lab was also a member of the Indian SARS-CoV-2 consortium on genomics (INSACOG), a group of now 28 national laboratories that was established by the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, Government of India, for carrying out genomic sequencing and analysis of circulating Covid-19 viruses and correlating epidemiological trends with genomic variants.

Dr Rupinder Bakshi said the WGS facilities at the laboratory would aid the state in gearing up and recognising Covid-19 strains circulating among its population, including the B11529 strain renamed as Omicron, in order to devise appropriate and necessary containment measures and strategies.

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