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Global Initiative on Sharing All Influenza Data (GISAID)

Topics Covered: Important International institutions, agencies and fora, their structure, mandate.

Global Initiative on Sharing All Influenza Data (GISAID)

What to study?

For Prelims: About GISAID and genome sequencing.

For Mains: Why is it important to understand the genomic sequence of COVID-19?

Context: So far, India has shared nine whole genome sequences of the novel coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2) with the Global Initiative on Sharing All Influenza Data (GISAID). All these have been shared by the Pune-based National Institute of Virology.


Early in March, India became the fifth country in the world to sequence the genome of the novel Coronavirus, or Covid-19, and share its data with the international community.

What is genomic sequencing?

Genomic sequencing is a technique that allows us to read and interpret genetic information found within DNA or RNA.

Why is it important to understand the genomic sequence of COVID-19?

The SARS-CoV2 genome, as it is formally known, has about 30,000 base pairs, somewhat like a long string with 30,000 places where each one of these occupy one of four chemicals called nucleotides.

This long string, with its unique combination of nucleotides, is what uniquely identifies the virus and is called its genomic sequence. A look at virus genome sequences from patient samples that test positive for COVID-19 helps researchers to understand how the virus is evolving as it spreads. So far, there are over 1,000 COVID-19 genomes that have been published worldwide.

Therefore, sequencing is necessary because:

  1. It helps track the transmission route of the virus globally.
  2. It can determine how quickly the virus is adapting as it spreads.
  3. It identifies targets to therapies.
  4. It is required to understand the role of co-infection.

What is GISAID?

It is a public platform started by the WHO in 2008 for countries to share genome sequences.

  • Created as an alternative to the public domain sharing model, GISAID’s sharing mechanism took into account the concerns of Member States by providing a publicly accessible database designed by scientist for scientist, to improve the sharing of influenza data.
  • In 2010 the Federal Republic of Germany became the official host of the GISAID platform.
  • In 2013 the European Commission recognized GISAID as a research organization and partner in the PREDEMICS consortium, a project on the Preparedness, Prediction and the Prevention of Emerging Zoonotic Viruses with Pandemic Potential using multidisciplinary approaches.

GISAID’s database access agreement ensures that contributors of genetic sequence data do not forfeit their intellectual property rights to the data.

Insta Link:

Prelims Link:

  1. What is Genome Sequencing?
  2. How it works?
  3. RNA vs DNA.
  4. Who administers GISAID.

Mains Link:

What is genome sequencing? How it helps prevent the spread of COVID 19?

Sources: the Hindu.