J&K could start S Gene Kits to fast-track Omicron spread assessment: Experts

Months on, Genome Sequencing Lab not established, reports delayed by months
Representational Image
Representational Image

Srinagar, Dec 24: In absence of a Genomic Sequencing Lab that had been announced by J&K Government at the beginning of the Second Wave here, the UT could take support of S Gene Kits to assess the presence of Omicron variant in the positive cases here.

The Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has said that S gene target failure (SGTF) could be Omicron. A senior scientist Greater Kashmir spoke to said that STGF is a slight augmentation of RT-PCR test. “The SGTF means that the RTPCR has detected all other genes of COVID19 except the S Gene, currently known to be the most loud characteristic of Omicron,” he said. The RT-PCR is considered to be the Gold Standard of COVID19 testing as it detects and matches the genetic material of the virus.

The expert said that J&K could start SGTF Tests. “This testing for S-gene dropout is not difficult and can be combined with routine RT PCR testing and will give indirect evidence of the Omicron variant in a RTPCR positive case,” he said.

In June this year, the J & K Government said Genome Sequencing would be started in two labs in J&K, one each in SKIMS Soura and GMC Jammu. However, months on, no progress has been made on the proposal. Delta variant spread and caused a high number of fatalities in J&K but a senior doctor said it was “too late in May” when J&K realized the spread of the variant due to the delay in Genome Sequencing.

Maharashtra Government has sanctioned funds for procuring S gene testing kits in order to monitor the spread of Omicron variant. Delhi Government has started genome sequencing of at least 500 samples a day for Omicron spread.

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