‘Mega labs’ to boost COVID-19 testing

  • IASbaba
  • August 14, 2020
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‘Mega labs’ to boost COVID-19 testing

Part of: GS Prelims and Mains II and III – Govt policies and initiatives; Social/Health issue; Science and Technology 


  • Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) to develop “mega labs” to ramp up testing for COVID-19 
  • The labs will use repurposing large machines, called Next Generation Sequencing machines (NGS). 

About Next Generation Sequencing machines (NGS) 

  • They are normally used for sequencing human genomes or DNA sequencing.  
  • Next-generation sequencing machines or instruments are as mentioned as DNA microarrays, real-time PCR and DNA chips and reagents.   
  • These machines can substantially detect the presence of the COVID virus even in several instances where the traditional RT­-PCR (reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction) tests fail. 

Do you know? 

  • Next-generation sequencing, also known as high-throughput sequencing, is the term used to describe a number of different modern sequencing technologies including Illumina (Solexa) sequencing, Roche 454 sequencing, Ion torrent: Proton / PGM sequencing, solid sequencing. 

Important Value Additions: 

About Genome sequencing: 

  • Genome sequencing is a process to figure out order of DNA nucleotides or bases in a genome. 
  • This means the order of As, Cs, Gs, and Ts, a unique combination of which makes up an organism’s DNA. 
  • After the genome is sequenced, the data is analysed to understand the genetic information of an entire species. 

Difference between Next Generation Sequencing machines (NGS) and RT­PCR test 

  • RT-­PCR test identifies the SARS­CoV­2 virus by exploring only specific sections, whereas the genome method can read a bigger chunk of virus genome and thereby provide more certainty that the virus in question is indeed the particular coronavirus of interest. 
  • NGS test can also trace the evolutionary history of the virus and track mutations more reliably.  
  • Unlike the RT-­PCR that needs primers and probes — a key hurdle in operationalising such tests on a mass scale early on in the pandemic — the NGS only needs custom reagents.  

Source: The Hindu 

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