SpiceHealth to take sequencing of incoming positive samples to airports

Our Bureau New Delhi | Updated on January 14, 2021

In a move that would ensure early action in containing new mutant variants of Covid-19 detected in the UK and other countries, SpiceHealth has tied-up with CSIR-Institute of Genomics and Integrative Biology (CSIR-IGIB) to set up a portable testing laboratory for genome sequencing at Delhi’s Indira Gandhi International (IGI) airport for all positive samples from international travellers.

CSIR-IGIB is one of the constituent labs of the Indian SARS-CoV-2 Genomics Consortium (INSACOG) recently announced by the Health Ministry.

Under this programme, all positive samples from international travellers arriving at Delhi’s IGI airport would be sequenced at the airport sequencing laboratory, to ensure early action in containing new mutant variants that have increased transmissibility.

The genome sequencing laboratory at the airport was inaugurated by VK Paul, Member (Health) NITI Aayog and Chairman, National Expert Group on Vaccine Administration for Covid-19 (NEGVAC), in the presence of CAIR-IGIB Director Anurag Agrawal, Ajay Singh, CMD, SpiceJet and Avani Singh, CEO, SpiceHealth.

Sequencing at the airport is expected to significantly minimise the time for necessary action. CSIR’s experience using portable sequencers suggests that it is possible to identify variants within 48 hours of a person arriving in India and testing positive. If the samples are shipped to regional sequencing labs and then sequenced with the next batch, such time would be approximately one week or more. Sequencing at the airport could thus save as much as five days of potential transmission, reducing the spread of the imported variant strains.

“As our country is preparing for the world’s largest vaccination drive, we cannot afford any form of new distraction that may dilute the ongoing efforts in our war against the Covid-19 pandemic...Our collaboration with CSIR-IGIB is a significant step towards early detection of new mutant variants. SpiceHealth is firmly committed towards this resolve and is proud to roll out a first-of-its-kind laboratory for sequencing at the Delhi airport," said Avani Singh.

CSIR Director General Shekhar C Mande said the sequencing at the airports will be a game changer in identification of the SARS-CoV-2 variants and complemented SpiceHealth for being instrumental in introducing the dry swab direct RT-PCR testing developed by CSIR-CCMB, at SpiceHeath’s mobile labs.

“Affordable and widespread point of care sequencing is one of the most important new trends in next age diagnostics. Here, we plan to use it to help in better monitoring and managing the SARS CoV2 pandemic, but this is just a beginning towards its many potential clinical and public health applications,” said Agrawal.

The latest announcement from SpiceHealth, a health care company founded by the promoters of SpiceJet, comes on the backdrop of the firm's two successive pioneering and first-of-its-kind initiatives. On November 23, SpiceHealth had successfully launched its first mobile testing facility offering the most affordable RT-PCR testing at Rs. 499. SpiceHealth is currently conducting 10,000-15,000 tests per day at its labs functioning at government requested locations around Delhi NCR.

Earlier, SpiceHealth had also launched SpiceOxy – a compact, portable, non-invasive ventilation device, which is an effective solution for patients with mild to moderate breathing issues. Additionally, SpiceHealth had also introduced fingertip pulse oximeter, a handy device making it easier for people to measure the oxygen level of the blood.

Published on January 14, 2021

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