Goa considers own lab to test Covid-19 strain due to long wait at Pune
The Goa government is planning to set up its own genome sequencing lab since the National Institute of Virology in Pune is taking a long time to identify variants responsible for the new Covid-19 surge, said health minister. Vishwajit Rane pointed out that results of samples sent to the NIV several weeks ago had not been returned, leaving the state clueless about the strains prevalent in the state.
“We know that a lot of tourists and other people are coming into the state of Goa. There was a suggestion to track people since people even come from Brazil to Portugal and (then) indirectly into Goa. Tracking where they came from also needs to be done,” Rane said.
“Many times the media asks us what strain it is. Of the 15 or so tests that we sent to the NIV, we have not got any results till today. So I was discussing that we should explore the possibility to see how we can set up genome testing facilities in Goa or if we can tie up with somebody,” Rane said.
He said the dean of Goa Medical College has been asked to explore the feasibility and accordingly send a proposal to the state government for setting up such a facility in the state.
“If it’s feasible and if Rupees 1.5 crore is spent to get genome testing (facility) here so that we know what type of strain we are dealing with, (then) there is no harm in exploring the possibility and workability of (establishing) such a lab in Goa. It is not just (about) purchasing the equipment, it’s also to see whether we are able to run it,” he said.
“Instead of hot-mixing (resurfacing) one road, I might as well buy one machine worth ₹1.5 crore and do the genome sequencing to see what variant is spreading in the state of Goa instead of waiting 15 days (to get a result) from the NIV,” he added.