Venkaiah bats for fast-track genome sequencing of COVID variants

Vice-President M Venkaiah Naidu has called for fast-tracking of genome sequencing of new COVID-19 variants to identify the emergence of new variants and for speeding up the process of finding suitable vaccines and drugs.

Genome sequencing, as an adjunctive tool, plays a critical role and will not only help in combating the spread of the virus, but also in timely interventions, he said, while addressing scientists and scholars at the CSIR-Centre for Cellular & Molecular Biology (CCMB) LaCONES - Laboratory for the Conservation of Endangered Species on Friday.

Mr. Naidu stressed the need for strengthening international collaborations by research institutions to study the feasibility of developing a universal vaccine to neutralise various SARS-CoV-2 variants. In this context, he appealed to the people to shed vaccine hesitancy and reiterated that vaccines made in India are “safe and effective”, therefore “everyone should get vaccinated and encourage others to do so too”.

“Vaccination drive should become a national movement,” stressed the Vice-President and underscored the need for sporting and cultural icons to become active partners in the drive and motivate people to get inoculated. He complimented the CCMB for its contribution to the cause of COVID-19 mitigation and suggested further research on coronavirus transmissibility on how it infects new hosts or other species.

LaCONES has recently released guidelines in collaboration with the Central Zoo Authority and Ministry of Forestry, Environment and Climate Change for the zoo frontline workers on COVID-19 investigation for captive animals, he noted and observed the institute could make national and international linkages, to understand the emergence of infectious diseases and prevent such pandemics in the future.


National Wildlife Genetic Resource Bank (NWGRB) here, among the 23 such labs in the world, has helped in successful reproduction of blackbuck, spotted deer, rock pigeon and endangered mouse deer. The same should be extended for Hangul deer in Kashmir, Wild buffalos in Chattisgarh and the Red Panda in Darjeeling, suggested Mr. Naidu.

Formation of a consortium of five zoos to promote bio-banking of endangered species is “a timely initiative” and expressed confidence that the modern bio-technological tools will help in mitigating the adverse effects on wildlife and ecosystems. Massive afforestation programme is necessary to mitigate climate change and in protection, preservation and conservation of endangered species is vital for the well-being of animals, plants and humans plus ecosystems.

Earlier, LaCONES scientist in-charge Karthikeyan Vasudevan made a presentation of the activities. Mr Naidu visited the NWGRB, assisted reproduction lab and animal cages at the facility. He also released a book ‘An Introduction to Genetic Resource Banks for Wildlife Conservation ’. Telangana Home Minister Mahmood Ali and CCMB Director Vinay Nandicoori were present.

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Printable version | Sep 17, 2021 7:55:38 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Hyderabad/venkaiah-bats-for-fast-track-genome-sequencing-of-covid-variants/article35100659.ece

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