Covid: Jharkhand to get genome machine from US company Illumina
The Jharkhand government has ordered a whole-genome sequencing machine from the US company Illumina amid a continuous surge in Covid cases.
“The order was placed on Saturday and Indian representatives of the US company have assured on Monday that the installation of the Next Generation Sequencing type of whole-genome sequencing would take place within 45 days (mid-February),” said a source in National Health Mission (NHM) unit of the state health department.
Additional chief secretary (health) Arun Kumar Singh confirmed to The Telegraph that the state has placed the order and received assurance of installation within 45 days.
“We have placed the order of the machine which costs in excess of Rs 6 crore and have received assurance of its installation in Rajendra Institute of Medical Sciences (RIMS) Ranchi in 45 days. It is the same type of machine which is installed at the Institute of Life Sciences (an autonomous institute of department of biotechnology, Government of India) Bhubaneswar,” said Singh.
The senior bureaucrat admitted to the delay which has led to the state sending all its Covid positive samples to Bhubaneswar for genome sequencing.
“There were procedural delays and bureaucratic inertia which resulted in the delay. We cannot hold hands and ask the official to do work all the time,” claimed Singh.
Jharkhand health minister and Congress MLA from Jamshedpur West Banna Gupta on his part put the blame over delay on the BJP-led Union government.
“I have personally written to the Union health ministry since November requesting for a genome sequencing machine and again made a request in December. But received no response. It was only on Sunday during interaction with state health minister’s with the Union health minister (Mansukh Mandaviya) that the Union minister verbally assured that a genome sequencing machine would be installed soon at Ranchi,” said Gupta.
Sources in the health department revealed that the microbiology department at RIMS Ranchi had recommended purchasing a genome sequencing machine in April 2021 but the health department sat on the proposal and it was only in June-July, that the proposal was sent to the Centre. The department wrote to the Centre twice, but no clear reply was received in this direction.
In December, the department prepared a proposal to buy the machine on the lines of Odisha and made it available to NHM.
Significantly, on Monday, Jharkhand added 1481 more Covid positive cases including one death in Jamshedpur taking the tally of active cases to 5,218. The state has a positivity rate of 0.21 per cent which is higher than the national average of 0.04 per cent. Capital Ranchi has a positivity rate of 11.23 which is higher than Delhi (6 per cent).
In terms of active cases Jharkhand is in the seventh position behind Maharashtra-56117, Kerala-20053, Tamil Nadu-10346, Delhi-10986 Karnataka-11374 and Gujarat-5858.
“With genome sequencing machine we can get the result in a day and plan out an action plan against Omicron. As of now, we are not aware if the Covid variant is Omicron or Delta. We are yet to receive any result from Bhubaneswar on the samples due to high pendency of cases,” said a source in the microbiology unit of RIMS.