This is an interdisciplinary collaboration to advance COVID-19 health-relevant knowledge

A team of Indian scientists have partnered with their counterparts in Brazil, Russia, China and South Africa as part of SARS-CoV-2 NGS- BRICS consortium and multi centric programme to study the impact of severe COVID-19 conditions on tuberculosis (TB) patients.

Both the consortium and multi centric programme is being implemented by the Department of Biotechnology, Ministry of Science and Technology, Government of India in collaboration with BRICS countries, a statement of the Ministry of Science and Technology said on Monday.

This is an interdisciplinary collaboration to advance COVID-19 health-relevant knowledge and to contribute to improvements in health outcomes, it stated.

Dr. Renu Swarup, Secretary, Department of Biotechnology remarked that the department has taken small steps in the right direction towards collaboration with BRICS countries.

She also stated that the Department plans to expend the BRICS programme.

The statement informed that the SARS-CoV-2 NGS- BRICS consortium will accelerate the translation of genomic data leading to clinical and public health research and interventions from clinical and surveillance samples by utilising the high-end genomic technologies, and epidemiologic and bioinformatics tools for future use in diagnostic assays and tracking transmission dynamics of COVID-19 and other viruses.

The second multi centric programme consists of an interdisciplinary team of researchers from India, Brazil and South Africa who would investigate the impact of severe COVID-19 on transient peripheral immunosuppression and lung hyperinflammation conditions in TB patients for epidemiology and comorbidity.

The Indian team for the SARS-CoV-2 NGS- BRICS consortium consists from National Institute of Biomedical Genomics (Professor Arindam Maitra, Professor Saumitra Das, Dr Nidhan K Biswas), Centre for DNA Fingerprinting and Diagnostics (Dr Ashwin Dalal) and Indian Institute of Science (Dr Mohit K Jolly).

Alongside the team from India in the consortium, there will be participants from National Laboratory for Scientific Computation - LNCC/MCTI (Dr Ana Tereza Ribeiro de Vasconcelos) from Brazil and Skolkovo Institute of Science and Technology (Professor Georgii Bazykin) from Russia; Beijing Institute of Genomics, Chinese Academy of Sciences (Professor Mingkun Li) from China and University of KwaZulu-Natal (Professor Tulio de Oliveira) from South Africa.

The team for the second multi centric programme consists of National Institute of Research in Tuberculosis (Dr. Subash Babu, Dr. Anuradha Rajamanickam, Dr. Banurekha Velayutham and Dr. Dina Nair) from India.

The participants from Brazil are Lapclin-Tb/ Inifiocruz (Dr. Valeria Cavalcanti Rolla), IMU, LIB, MONSTER/ IGMFIOCRUZ (Dr. Bruno de Bezerril Andrade), LAPCLIN-TB/ INIFIOCRUZ (Dr. Adriano Gomes da Silva) and LBB/ INI-FIOCRUZ (Dr. Maria Cristina Lourenço).

South African participants from University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg are Dr. Bavesh Kana, Dr. Bhavna Gordhan, Dr. Neil Martinson and Dr. Ziyaad Waja.

This collaborative study is expected to provide valuable co-morbidity data pertaining to pulmonary TB patients with or without COVID-19 co-infection that is expected to be generated for better disease management, the statement added.