The World Health Organization’s Science Council has published a paper titled “Accelerating access to genomes for global health,” which argues in favor of transferring Genomic Surveillance Technologies to underdeveloped nations.
With this study, WHO followed its 10-year plan for monitoring pathogen genomics.
As a result of their capabilities in genomic surveillance, nations like South Africa made critical contributions to the worldwide response to Covid -19.
Concerning Genomic Surveillance
Genomic surveillance is keeping a close eye on infectious disease threats by tracking and comparing the genetic makeup of known pathogens.
Genomic sequencing allows researchers to distinguish between mutated strains of a disease.
A more robust ability to plan for and respond to pandemics and epidemics depends on robust genomic surveillance.
Genomic monitoring techniques have already been effective in eradicating polio in India and elsewhere.
Source: Drishti IAS
Genomic Surveillance in India
To better understand the distribution and evolution of SARS-CoV-2 in India, the Indian SARS-CoV-2 Genomics Consortium (INSACOG) was formed to facilitate widespread Whole Genome Sequencing of the virus.
More than 50 research institutions have come together to form INSACOG, which was launched by the Union Health Ministry of Health, the Department of Biotechnology (DBT), the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR), and the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR).
The Regional Genomics Service Laboratory (RGSL) is the central facility for genome sequencing in its designated region.
It is planned to model the Indian Tuberculosis Genomic Surveillance Consortium (InTGS) after the American International Network for the Study of Chest Disease (INSACOG).
Simply put, how does genomic sequencing function?
Genomic sequencing allows researchers to further categorize a virus as a specific variety and trace its ancestry beyond only testing for SARS-CoV-2. Throughout the COVID-19 epidemic, genomic monitoring has been an integral part of public health initiatives.
The First Extracting Step
The first step involves isolating the pathogen’s DNA or RNA from the bacteria, virus, or other microbe.
Extraction First, the bacterium, virus, or other pathogen is cultured to remove its DNA or RNA.
Phase 2: Research and Library Use
It is necessary to take extra precautions with the DNA or RNA to be sequenced before it can be fed into the sequencing equipment. Procedures may vary with the nature of the sample and the tools at hand.
A sequencer reads the library to determine the DNA fragments’ nucleotide bases.
The sequencer creates millions of lengthy letter strings that are combined or aligned with a reference sequence. Analytical algorithms compare fresh sequence data to the reference sequence and find variations in the sample, much like a family tree.
Role of Genomic Surveillance
It integrates with other epidemiology and information to deliver real-time, actionable insights, making it an ideal early warning system and aiding governments in strengthening predictive initiatives to prepare for pandemics.
To aid in the creation of vaccines, by keeping tabs on and analyzing circulating strains to better advise the creation and redesign of vaccines for both new and old infectious illnesses.
Smart surveillance may aid in the creation and calibration of diagnostics in real-time, and it can also give insights that assist pharmaceutical companies to direct their research and design efforts toward developing more effective treatments.
Obstacles in Genomic Monitoring
Because of inequity across countries, few states can independently create skills in areas like genomics and capacity maintenance across contexts and labor requirements.
The results of genetic surveillance are not well integrated with those of epidemiological and clinical surveillance in terms of scale, geographic representativeness, timeliness, quality, comparability, or integration.
Source: genomics education
The generation of efficient computational techniques to permit strong conclusions is a significant technological problem, as is the integration of genetic data with information from other sources.
We now have to be concerned about newer versions of these diseases: It is challenging to assess the nature and patterns of the newer variations, such as COVID-19, using current genomic monitoring technologies due to the rapid increase in the number of newly emerging variants.
Genome surveillance : Wayforward
Using a molecular technique for contact tracking and analyzing the global propagation of the virus, genomic monitoring of diseases delivers intriguing insights.
Since the number of reported monkeypox cases is climbing, it’s crucial to step up efforts to monitor the virus genetically.
Besides giving valuable information to epidemiologists, continual genomic surveillance is crucial for understanding the development and adaptability of the virus in light of the current outbreak’s findings suggesting a prolonged human-to-human transmission. The need for a long-term, reliable system of genomic surveillance in India has never been greater than it is now, what with the ongoing spread of COVID-19 and the impending arrival of monkeypox.
Read more: Khosta-2 Virus: Is it a Threat to Humans?