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March 31, 2020
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Telangana news
India has finally shared two whole genome sequence data of the novel coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2) with the Global Initiative on Sharing All Influenza Data (GISAID).The two sequences were shared by the Pune-based National Institute of Virology. This news comes after The Hindu reported on March 4 that India has not shared any genome sequence data with the GISAID.Also Read: Coronavirus | Live updates: China, Italy report more COVID-19 deaths“We shared the two sequences with GISAID on March 5 evening,” said Priya Abraham, Director of NIV. “We had shared the sequences with GenBank about two weeks ago.”In tweet on March 6 evening, GISAID said it has “updated” the database with “two SARS-CoV-2 sequences from Kerala sampled at the end of January”. It added: “These sequences do not link very closely to other sequences in the tree.”The three adults in Kerala who were found to be infected with the novel virus had returned from Wuhan. The first COVID-19 patient in India, a medical student who had returned from Wuhan, was laboratory confirmed by NIV on January 30. Two more adults from Kerala were laboratory confirmed by NIV within a couple of days.Also read: Patient tested negative for COVID-19 dies in ErnakulamAt this point, it is not clear why the sequences appear to differ from the rest in the phylogenetic tree. A virologist who did not want to be named said that it could possibly be due to sequencing errors.Studying viral genome sequences immensely help in epidemiological investigations. “Sequencing the genome of novel coronavirus will help us to know where the virus came from and how the virus has spread. For instance, by sequencing the genome of the virus isolated from an Indian patient, it will become possible to know if the virus had come from China or any other country,” Gautam Menon, professor of physics and biology at Ashoka University, Sonepat, Haryana and the Chennai-based Institute of Mathematical Sciences had earlier told The Hindu.So far, 26 countries, including India, have shared 178 SARS-CoV-2 genome sequences with the GISAID. At 70, China has shared the highest number of sequences. The other countries that have shared higher number of sequences are the U.S. (22), Australia and Japan (10 each), and Singapore and South Korea (eight each). Nepal, Vietnam and Cambodia have also shared one sequence each.

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