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India’s Genome-Sequencing Performance Through the Pandemic, in 4 Charts

India’s Genome-Sequencing Performance Through the Pandemic, in 4 Charts

A health worker collects a swab sample of passengers for COVID-19 tests, at the KSR Railway Station, Bengaluru, January 16, 2022. Photo: Shailendra Bhojak/PTI

New Delhi: Genome-sequencing has been instrumental in our response to the COVID-19 pandemic. It is the only way we have been able to detect the rise of new variants of the novel coronavirus.

A new analysis led by Gaurav Sharma, an expert on microbial genomics at the Institute of Bioinformatics and Applied Biotechnology, Bengaluru, evaluated how countries’ sequencing performance changed through the pandemic.

Most countries, including India, improved in 2021. But India among them still took 66 days to submit a sequenced genome to the GISAID database after collecting the sample in 2021. This was an improve from 159 days in 2020, but quite long compared to the lags of the US (23 days) and the UK (9 days).

India was ranked 121 on sequencing efficiency in 2021, up from #125 in 2020, out of 210 countries/entities (see note at the bottom). It sequenced 3.32 samples per 1,000 COVID-19 cases in 2021.

However, its position in the rankings didn’t improve as a result of its shorter time lag in 2021, because the performance of other countries increased even more. India’s time-lag rank was 104 in 2020, down to 129 in 2021.

The following four charts show how India’s ‘peer countries’ ranked in 2020 and 2021, as well as how the top and bottom 10 performers in each category fared.

Among BRICS countries

Among countries of the Indian subcontinent


Sequencing efficiency – top and bottom 10 countries

Time lag – top and bottom 10 countries

Note on number of countries/entities: The paper’s authors have listed Taiwan and some other entities as separate territories. Island territories like Saint Barthelemy (controlled by France), Saint Martin (France and the Netherlands), Crimea (Ukraine), etc. have been counted as separate territories as well.

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