Bengaluru: Strand Life Sciences, genomics-based research, and diagnostics company, presented insights from its COVID19 genomic surveillance initiative of sequencing 12,800 SARS-CoV-2 samples from the city of Bengaluru on Sunday, July 17 as a part of the ‘Celebrating Covid Genomic Sequencing and Surveillance effort in Karnataka’ event at Sir Puttanna Chetty Townhall, JC Road, Bengaluru.
The event was presided over by Dr Ashwath Narayan CN, Minister of Higher Education, IT & BT, Govt of Karnataka, Dr. Thrilok Chandra, IAS, Special Health Commissioner, BBMP, Dr. Ramesh Hariharan, CEO & Co-Founder, Strand Life Sciences, Prof. Rajesh Sundaresan, IISc, Professor, Dr Vishal US Rao, Member of Genomic Surveillance Committee, Karnataka, and Director – Head and Neck Oncology, HCG Cancer Hospital, and Prof. Rakesh Mishra, Director, Tata Institute for Genetics and Society.
RTPCR +ve samples were collected between July 2021 and June 2022 from various laboratories in Bengaluru, Karnataka, with due permissions from BBMP. These samples were then sequenced and analyzed for variants and strains at Strand’s laboratories, and the findings were conveyed to the Karnataka State and BBMP public health officials in conjunction with INSACOG (Indian SARS-CoV-2 Genetics Consortium) labs like InStem, the key stakeholders for this project.
The project was supported primarily by philanthropic funding from IN Covid Support, supplemented with funding from organisations like ACT Covid Response Collective.
Commenting on the report, Dr. Ramesh Hariharan, CEO & Co-Founder, Strand Life Sciences, said, “We are proud to have contributed 38% of the samples submitted from Karnataka to major public databases. In hindsight, there was an opportunity to spot the emergence of the Delta strain at least a month before it caused its tragic mayhem. We learned from that and have since been tracking the virus closely and providing timely information to the Government of Karnataka and BBMP. We would like to thank the Government of Karnataka and BBMP officials as well as all our funding partners for their invaluable support, which allowed us as a society to stay on top of the virus.”
Dr Ashwath Narayan CN, Minister of Higher Education, IT & BT, Govt of Karnataka, said, “A vital component of managing public health is keeping up with virus mutations and lineages. We have taken active measures to encourage genomic sequencing to enable detection of new variants proactively. This effort by Strand Life Sciences has played a significant role in understanding the spread and identifying relevant solutions to control the spread of the virus.”