VP Naidu calls for fast-tracking of genome sequencing of new COVID-19 variants

Hyderabad: Vice President Venkaiah Naidu on Friday called for fast-tracking of genome sequencing of new COVID-19 variants to speed up finding suitable vaccines and drugs.

Naidu visited CCMB’s LaCONES (Laboratory for the Conservation of Endangered Species) facility here in Hyderabad.

He witnessed a presentation by Scientist-in-charge of LaCONES, Dr. Karthikeyan Vasudevan and visited National Wildlife Genetic Resource Bank, Assisted Reproduction Lab and animal cages at the facility.

Addressing scientists and research scholars, Naidu observed that sequencing, as an adjunctive tool, plays a critical role in identifying the emergence of new viral mutations and thus helps combat the spread of COVID-19. It would also help in timely interventions, he added.

Stating that the need for genome sequencing of new variants becomes crucial in the light of reports of big cats contracting COVID-19 in a few zoos in the country, Venkaiah Naidu pointed out species jump of a virus—from humans to animals or vice versa—could lead to new variants and pose fresh challenges in the ongoing fight against the pandemic.

The Vice President also stressed the need for strengthening international collaborations by research institutions to study the feasibility of developing a universal vaccine that could neutralize various, emerging variants of the virus.

Appealing to the people to shed vaccine hesitancy, Naidu reiterated that vaccines made in India are safe and effective and everyone should get vaccinated and encourage others to do so too.

He called for cultural and sporting icons to become active partners in the drive and motivate people to go for vaccination. “Vaccination drive should become a national movement”, he stressed.

Complimenting CCMB for its contribution to the cause of COVID-19 mitigation, Naidu referred to the need for strong collaborative arrangements between institutions and added that LaCONES-CCMB, was rightly positioned to make linkages at both national and international levels, to understand the emergence of infectious diseases and prevent such pandemics in the future.

During the visit, the Vice President released a book ‘An Introduction to Genetic Resource Banks for Wildlife Conservation’. He also interacted with research scholars and inquired about their work.

Telangana home minister Mahmood Ali, CCMB director Dr. Vinay Nandicoori, Scientist-in-Charge CCMB-LaCONES Dr. Karthikeyan Vasudevan, Chief Wildlife Warden Telangana R. Shobha, scientists and research scholars were present during the event.