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Omicron variant: Is genome sequencing costly? Read Here

Senior Scientist Dr. Abhay Kumar told India TV that genome sequencing has revealed that, unlike the delta variant, the Omicron variant shows a lot of mutations in its spike proteins.

Nitish Chandra Edited by: Nitish Chandra @NitishIndiatv
Patna Updated on: December 08, 2021 20:43 IST
omicron covid variant
Image Source : PTI

Omicron variant: Is genome sequencing costly? Read Here

Highlights

  • Rs12000-15000 are spent on a single sample in the process of genome sequencing.
  • Genome sequencing is used to ascertain the presence of the new Omicron Covid-19 variant in the body.
  • It is usually done only after 96 samples have been collected.

Genome sequencing is the only way so far that can ascertain the presence of the new Omicron Covid-19 variant in the body. However, it is not as affordable as it is effective. During a visit to the Genome Lab of the Department of Microbiology at IGIMS Hospital, Patna, India TV correspondent tried to understand the entire process and the cost of genome sequencing. Dr Namrata Kumari, HOD to the Microbiology Department, said that 96 samples can be processed at a time in this genome sequencing machine and it costs about 12 to 15 lakhs. 

This implies, that about Rs12000-15000 are spent on a single sample. Although less than 96 samples can be processed in this machine at a time, but the cost comes as much as it comes for the whole 96 samples. 

Therefore, in view of the skyrocketing cost, genome sequencing is usually done only after 96 samples have been collected. Sometimes for some reason, the test has to be repeated. 

In this case, the cost increases further. Till now the hospital was sample sequencing at its own expense to identify the variant but due to the high expenditure, a budget problem came up. Therefore, IGIMS Hospital has now written a letter to the state government demanding to provide a separate budget for the sequencing.

Genome Sequencing machine

The machine used to perform genome sequencing is also very expensive, priced at Rs. 1.5 crore. Apart from this, it also has some auxiliary machines which are used in the process of identifying the variant of the virus. 

Before sequencing, other steps are performed such as extracting DNA, converting from RNA to DNA, fractionation of the genome and library preparation. 

There are different machines for all the processes. It takes about 10 days to get the report. 

 
How is the Omicron different from the Delta variant?

Senior Scientist Dr. Abhay Kumar told India TV that genome sequencing has revealed that, unlike the delta variant, the Omicron variant shows a lot of mutations in its spike proteins.

Another thing is that all the viruses like alpha, beta, gamma, and delta have only come out after mutation from the classic covid-19 virus, that is, the virus that originated in Wuhan. Omicron is the fifth variant of this virus.

Also Read: 10 new Omicron cases reported in Maharashtra, several others suspected

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