Complementing national efforts led by Indian SARS-CoV-2 Genomic Consortia (INSACOG), a consortium of four city clusters – Bangalore, Hyderabad, Delhi and Pune – has been established to upscale the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus genomic surveillance.
Eight labs in these four cities will attempt to develop strategies to identify “variants of concern before they spread widely and cause outbreaks”.
The consortium, established with support and seed funding from US’ Rockefeller Foundation, aims to develop targeted sampling strategies based on granular epidemiological and clinical data, a statement informed.
Coupled with intense environmental surveillance and advanced computational techniques, the consortium will also focus on building capabilities for real-time surveillance and epidemiology.
The new effort will track the emergence of viral variants correlated to epidemiological dynamics and clinical outcomes.
The consortium is led by CSIR-Centre for Cellular and Molecular Biology (CSIR-CCMB), Hyderabad and currently includes different partners in three other cities – NCBS-TIFR, InStem-DBT and NIMHANS in Bengaluru; CSIR-IGIB in New Delhi; Pune Knowledge Cluster, IISER-Pune and CSIR-NCL in Pune.
“It will work closely with local governments, hospitals and clinicians. In collaboration with INSACOG, the consortium aims to eventually make this a national effort by expanding to other strategic locations in India,” the statement said.
The efforts will be led by Dr Rakesh Mishra, Advisor at CSIR-CCMB, along with Professor Satyajit Mayor, NCBS, Professor LS Shashidhara, Pune Knowledge Cluster and Dr Anurag Agrawal, CSIR-IGIB.
“Our aim is to develop strategies and capabilities to identify Variants of Concern before they spread widely and cause outbreaks. This will also help correlate with clinical symptoms and disease severity, potentially associated with emerging variants,” the team said in a statement.
Dr Vinay Nandicoori, Director, CSIR-CCMB adds, “All the partner institutes have been fighting COVID-19 since its very beginning in the country. This much-needed collaboration will bring all their strengths together in a structured fashion.”
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