top of page

Q&A on Indian SARS-CoV-2 Genomics Consortium (INSACOG)

Q- What is INSACOG?

The Indian SARS-CoV-2 Genomics Consortium (INSACOG) is a national multi-agency consortium of Genome Sequencing Laboratories (RGSLs) laboratories established by the Government of India on 30th December 2020.


Q&A on Indian SARS-CoV-2 Genomics Consortium (INSACOG)

Initially, this consortium had 10 laboratories. Subsequently, the scope of laboratories under INSACOG was expanded and at present, there are 28 laboratories under this Consortium that monitor the genomic variations in SARS-CoV-2.


Q- What is the objective of INSACOG?


Ans- The SARS-CoV-2 virus, commonly known as the COVID-19 virus posed unprecedented public health challenges globally. In order to fully understand the spread and evolution of the SARS CoV-2 virus, its mutations and resulting Variants, the need for in-depth sequencing and analysis of the genomic data was felt. Against this backdrop, INSACOG was established to expand whole-genome sequencing of the SARS-CoV-2 virus across the nation, aiding our understanding of how the virus spreads and evolves. Any changes to the genetic code, or mutations in the virus, can be observed based on the analysis and sequencing of samples done in the laboratories under INSACOG.



INSACOG has the following specific objectives:

  • To ascertain the status of Variants of Interest (VoI) and Variants of Concern (VoC) in the country

  • To establish sentinel surveillance and surge surveillance mechanisms for early detection of genomic variants and assist in formulating effective public health response

  • To determine the presence of genomic variants in samples collected during super-spreader events and in areas reporting increasing trends of cases/deaths etc.


Q- When did India start SARS COV-2 viral sequencing?


Ans- India started sequencing SARS-CoV-2 viral genomes in 2020. Initially, NIV and ICMR sequenced samples of international passengers who arrived in India from the UK, Brazil or South Africa or transited through these countries, as these countries reported a sudden surge in cases. RTPCR positive samples from States reporting sudden surges in cases were sequenced on priority. This was further expanded through efforts of the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR), Department of Biotechnology (DBT) and National Centre for Disease Control (NCDC), as well as individual Institutions.


The initial focus of India was on restricting the spread of global variants of concern in the country – Alpha (B.1.1.7), Beta (B.1.351) and Gamma (P.1), which had high transmissibility. The entry of these variants was carefully tracked by INSACOG. Subsequently, the Delta and Delta Plus variants were also identified based on Whole Genome Sequencing analysis conducted in the INSACOG laboratories.


Q- What is the strategy for SARS CoV-2 surveillance in India?


Ans- Initially, genomic surveillance was focused on the variants carried by international travellers and their contacts in the community through sequencing 3-5% of the total RTPCR positive samples.


Subsequently, the sentinel surveillance strategy was also communicated to the States/UTs in April 2021. Under this strategy, multiple sentinel sites are identified to adequately represent the geographic spread of a region, and RTPCR positive samples are sent from each sentinel site for Whole Genome Sequencing. Detailed SOPs for sending samples from the identified sentinel sites regularly to the designated Regional Genome Sequencing Laboratories (RGSLs) were shared with States/UTs. The list of INSACOG RGSLs tagged to States was also communicated to the States. A dedicated Nodal Officer was also designated by all States/UTs for coordinating the activity of Whole Genome Sequencing.

  1. Sentinel Surveillance (for all States/UTs/): This is an ongoing surveillance activity across India. Each State/UT has identified sentinel sites (including RT-PCR labs and tertiary health care facilities) from where RT-PCR positive samples are sent for Whole Genome Sequencing.

  2. Surge Surveillance (for districts with COVID19 clusters or those reporting a surge in cases): A representative nos. of samples (as per the sampling strategy finalized by State Surveillance Officer/Central Surveillance Unit) are collected from the districts which show a surge in the number of cases and are sent to RGSLs.



Q- What is the Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) for sending samples to INSACOG laboratories?


Ans- The Standard operating procedure for sending samples to INSACOG laboratories and subsequent action based on genome sequencing analysis is as follows:

  1. The Integrated Disease Surveillance Programme (IDSP) machinery coordinates sample collection and transportation from the districts/sentinel sites to Regional Genome Sequencing Laboratories. The RGSLs are responsible for Genome sequencing and identification of Variants of Concern/Variants of Interest, potential Variants of Interest, and other mutations. Information on Variants of Concern (VOC)/Variants of Interest (VOI) is submitted to Central Surveillance Unit, IDSP for establishing a clinico-epidemiological correlation in coordination with State Surveillance Officers.

  2. Based on discussions in the Scientific and Clinical Advisory Group (SCAG) established to support the INSACOG, it was decided that upon identification of a genomic mutation that could be of public health relevance, RGSL will submit the same to SCAG. SCAG discusses the Potential Variants of Interest and other mutations and, if felt appropriate, recommends to Central Surveillance Unit for further investigation.

  3. The genome sequencing analysis and clinico-epidemiological correlation established by IDSP is shared with MOHFW, ICMR, DBT, CSIR and States/UTs for formulating and implementing requisite public health measures.

  4. The new mutations/variants of concern are cultured, and genomic studies are undertaken to see the impact on vaccine efficacy and immune escape properties.


Q- What is the current status of Variants of Concern (VOC)?

Ans- Variants of Concern have been found in 174 districts in 35 states in India. The highest numbers of VOCs have been reported from districts in Maharashtra, Delhi, Punjab, Telangana, West Bengal & Gujarat. Variants of Concern of public health importance detected in community samples in India are Alpha, Beta, Gamma and Delta.


The B.1.617 lineage, first observed in Maharashtra, was associated with the unusual rise observed in several districts of the State. It is now found in many States in India.


Q- What is the Delta Plus variant?

Ans- B.1.617.2.1 (AY.1) or commonly known as Delta Plus variant signifies Delta variant with an additional mutation.


Read more from the below TAGS


People also reading-

8 views0 comments
Planner 5D- Interior design app

Planner 5D- Interior design app

Flipkart Online Shopping App

Flipkart Online Shopping App

World population to reach 8 billion this year, as the growth rate slows

July 12, 2022 at 6:57:56 AM

15 November 2022 is predicted to be the day that the global population reaches eight billion. The projection is revealed in the UN’s World Population Prospects 2022 report, which also shows that India is on course to surpass China as the world’s most populous country in 2023.

World population to reach 8 billion this year, as the growth rate slows

WHO: Nearly one billion people have a mental disorder

June 22, 2022 at 7:20:50 AM

Nearly one billion people worldwide suffer from some form of mental disorder, according to the latest UN data – a staggering figure that is even more worrying if you consider that it includes around one in seven teenagers.

WHO: Nearly one billion people have a mental disorder

What can the UN do? Check the top 5 questions answered

April 6, 2022 at 10:51:48 AM

The current war in Ukraine, following the Russian invasion, has sparked all sorts of questions about the United Nations, particularly the role of the Security Council, the General Assembly and the Secretary-General.

What can the UN do? Check the top 5 questions answered

Ukraine: UN’s Guterres joins call for Bucha war crimes probe

April 6, 2022 at 8:22:29 AM

UN chief António Guterres on Tuesday added his voice to the growing international calls for a war crimes investigation into the killing of civilians in the Ukrainian town of Bucha.

Ukraine: UN’s Guterres joins call for Bucha war crimes probe

Recent terrorist attacks in Israel undermine ‘prospects for peace’: Guterres

March 31, 2022 at 8:29:57 AM

Secretary-General António Guterres on Tuesday night condemned recent terrorist attacks in Israel that have claimed the lives of at least 11 Israeli citizens.

Recent terrorist attacks in Israel undermine ‘prospects for peace’: Guterres

China's BYD ceases to produce gasoline-powered vehicles

4/4/22, 7:00 AM

Chinese auto manufacturer BYD announced Sunday that it has already ceased the production of traditional gasoline-powered vehicles starting from March.

China's BYD ceases to produce gasoline-powered vehicles

Performance-oriented all-new ŠKODA SLAVIA 1.5 TSI Launched creates a segment of its own

3/27/22, 10:42 AM

All new ŠKODA SLAVIA 1.5 TSI starts at ₹ 16.19 lacs

Performance-oriented all-new ŠKODA SLAVIA 1.5 TSI Launched creates a segment of its own

CARS24 Raises $450 Million, Nearly Doubles Its Valuation To $1.84 Billion

9/25/21, 6:16 AM

CARS24, India’s leading e-commerce platform for pre-owned vehicles, announced today the closing of a $450M round of funding including a $340M Series F equity round alongside $110M debt from diversified financial institutions.

CARS24 Raises $450 Million, Nearly Doubles Its Valuation To $1.84 Billion

Tata Motors launches the ‘XPRES’ brand for fleet customers

7/18/21, 6:13 PM

Tata Motors, one of India’s leading automobile manufacturers, today announced the launch of a new brand ‘XPRES,’ exclusively for fleet customers.

Tata Motors launches the ‘XPRES’ brand for fleet customers

Audi India announces curated ownership plans for Audi e-tron and Audi e-tron Sportback customers

7/18/21, 5:56 PM

Special Service Plans, Extended Warranty and Buyback for a hassle-free ownership experience

Audi India announces curated ownership plans for Audi e-tron and Audi e-tron Sportback customers

TikTok hits 1 billion global active users

9/28/21, 8:56 AM

TikTok mission is to inspire creativity and bring joy.

TikTok hits 1 billion global active users

FACT CHECK: Crypto is increasingly being used for criminal activity and is a haven for illicit finance

6/23/21, 6:11 AM

Because cryptocurrency is still new, we are often asked about the biggest myths surrounding it. It’s common for a new market or product to confuse people until they get familiar with it. Think about Airbnb: the idea of staying in a stranger’s home seemed crazy until it didn’t.

FACT CHECK: Crypto is increasingly being used for criminal activity and is a haven for illicit finance

PUBG: NEW STATE surpasses 17 Million Google play store PRE-REGISTRATIONS following its recent ALPHA TEST

6/19/21, 4:40 AM

KRAFTON, Inc. to open pre-registration for the game on Apple’s App Store in Q3 2021

PUBG: NEW STATE surpasses 17 Million Google play store PRE-REGISTRATIONS following its recent ALPHA TEST
bottom of page