Delhi’s first genome sequencing lab inaugurated at Lok Nayak Hospital

Delhi’s first genome sequencing lab inaugurated at Lok Nayak Hospital

Delhi’s first genome sequencing laboratory was inaugurated at Lok Nayak Hospital on 7th July and will begin by sequencing 6-8 samples a week, according to hospital authorities.

As part of Delhi’s preparation for a possible third Covid wave, Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal had announced last month that two genome sequencing labs were in the process of being set up at Lok Nayak Hospital and the Institute of Liver and Biliary Sciences (ILBS). While the lab at Lok Nayak was inaugurated on Wednesday, the one at ILBS will be inaugurated on Thursday.

The lab can receive samples from hospitals across Delhi and can process eight samples at a time. A five-member Delhi state committee chaired by Dr Suresh Kumar, Medical Director at Lok Nayak, will be making decisions on protocol and which samples are to be sequenced.

“Initially, we will be conducting 6-8 (tests) in a week. Then we will augment the facility and we’ll do more tests depending on the need… It’s a very sophisticated test. It’s not a routine test that everyone is getting. The genomic study is mainly for surveillance purposes, when we are not aware which variant of the virus is there in the community…”, said Dr Kumar.

Speaking at the inauguration, Kejriwal said: “Every day we are reading in newspapers that there are new variants of the virus. So far, we have been dependent on the central government’s National Centre for Disease Control and had to send our samples there. Now, LNJP has a genome analyser and we’ll be able to study which variant is prevalent in Covid in Delhi now and which will spread in the future.

If we know the variant, it helps us take action and build a strategy against it… I’ve been told that this is the third such facility in North India after NCDC and the National Institute of Virology in Pune. This will benefit the people of Delhi a lot and this will be very helpful in the third wave.”

According to Dr Kumar, the machine can also be used in the analysis of samples for other diseases such as thalassemia, sickle cell disease and haemophilia when the need for Covid genome sequencing subsides.