BMC told to rope in cancer patients, others for genome study

© Provided by Mid-Day

Include Coronavirus-hit patients from private hospitals, immunocompromised patients, cancer patients for a better genome sequencing study, the state’s task force to tackle the Covid pandemic has suggested.

In a review meeting on Monday, the task force discussed the latest sero surveillance along with the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation’s genomic study which was presented by Dr Jayanthi Shashtri, head of microbiology at BYL Nair Hospital. 

“The latest genomic sequencing study showed Kappa strains were in double digits. The cases with Kappa strains were found to be deadlier than the Delta strains. Fortunately, the Kappa strain is not as transmissible as Delta,” said a doctor member of the task force. He said most of the Kappa and Delta strains were found from the cluster of patients taken from LTMG Sion Hospital.

“While the BMC had planned to take samples from private hospitals, the majority of the samples processed for the latest genomic sequencing were from the corporation-run facilities,” said another doctor from the task force.  With the city’s test positivity rate remaining above 1 per cent, the task force has recommended a robust genomic sequencing study along with vaccination.

The task force also said patients with a weak immune system should be vaccinated. The health experts feel the pandemic is now heading towards endemic and the state needs a robust plan for vaccination drive and genomic sequencing to understand the strains in circulation and take quick action.

“The latest serology study says there is a good level of antibodies. We now need to ramp up genome sequencing and include more patients from private hospitals. The genomic study should be clubbed with the immunological studies that will give some correlations,” said Dr Kedar Toraskar, critical care specialist, Wockhardt Hospital, and a member of the state task force. He said there have been people who didn’t have contact with Covid patients, were unvaccinated but still had a good amount of antibodies.

Dr Om Shrivastav, an infectious disease expert and another task force member, said, “Genome testing needs to be ramped up for future preparation. Immune surveillance will have a major role in more viral outbreaks. Sero surveys should consider having quantitative assessment.” The task force also agreed that if the cases don’t see much rise, schools and swimming pools can be opened in a phased manner as per the recommendations of the state’s paediatric task force.

86%

Population with high antibodies as per survey

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