The central government said on Friday that RT-PCR tests “are not missing” various variants of the SARS-CoV-2 virus, adding that several states had not sent samples for genome sequencing with clinical data from the virus. positive people, although they have been advised to do so.
The government’s clarification came amid media reports that RT-PCR tests “fail” to detect new variants of the virus.
“Indian Genomic Consortium for Covid-19 has shared genome sequencing data with states on multiple occasions starting March 26, 2021. The Indian Genomics Consortium has so far processed over 13,000 samples for genome sequencing The government said in a press release.
The Indian SARS-CoV-2 Genomics Consortium (INSACOG) is a network of 10 laboratories established in December 2020 to continuously monitor genomic changes of SARS-CoV-2 in India, through whole genome sequencing (WGS) , the statement added.
He added that the INSACOG guidelines were shared with states, which had also been asked to send samples for genome sequencing as well as clinical data from positive people. This, the statement said, would have helped INSACOG uncover other worrisome variants, if they were present in the community. “However, several states, including Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Kerala, have not shared such data, although others, including Punjab and Delhi, have,” said the government.
The statement also said detailed INSACOG guidelines were uploaded to the Union’s Department of Health and Family (MoHFW) website on December 27 last year. Of the 13,614 WGS samples processed in the 10 designated INSACOG laboratories, 1,189 tested positive for “variants of concern” of SARS-CoV-2. Of these, 1,109 samples were positive with the British variant and 79 and one with the South African and Brazilian variants.
“The RT-PCR tests used in India do not miss these mutations because these tests used in India target more than two genes. The sensitivity and specificity of the RT-PCR tests remain the same as before, ”the press release said.
According to the government-run Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR), 263,476,625 samples have been tested for the viral disease through April 15. Among them, 1,473,210 samples were tested on April 15, the ICMR said.