SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus makes errors while replicating its genome. These are called mutations or changes to the genomic sequence that lead to changes in the amino acids at the corresponding positions on the viral proteins.
While most new mutations are of little to no consequence, a few may be able to transmit better, escape existing immunity, dodge detection by diagnostic kits, or have serious clinical impacts. Estimating and anticipating the spread of the virus through genome surveillance of the virus is one of the major ways of fighting the pandemic. Samples from local or large outbreaks can be tracked for viral variants to see if they are more infectious in nature. Continuous and ongoing genome sequencing of the virus helps better understand how it is evolving and accumulating mutations, particularly in the context of current vaccination strategies.
CSIR-CCMB is India’s premier genome sequencing and analysis centre. Since the start of the pandemic, we have sequenced the genomes of coronavirus. We have obtained the viral samples from the swab samples that come to our testing centre as well as from other testing centres and hospitals, and from travellers arriving at the Rajiv Gandhi International Airport, Hyderabad.
So far, we have sequenced over 3,000 viral genomes and analyzed nearly 15,000 sequences from the country to (i) discover and track new mutations that appear from local transmissions, (ii) monitor the import of harmful variants, and iii) track the trends of the viral spread in the country. The analysis is easily accessible on our user-friendly, interactive dashboard GEAR-19.