India Detects Over 24,000 Mutations In 7,000 Variants Of Covid-19

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Over 24,000 mutations in the strains of SARS-CoV-2 in the last one year have been detected by the genetic diagnostic laboratories in India told top officials IANS on Tuesday.

Around 7,000 variants of the novel coronavirus which are under circulation in the country have been detected, said the officials.

An official who is a key member of National Task Force for Covid-19 informed that, “We have detected around 24,300 mutations in 7,000 variants of the virus currently under circulation.”

This information was also confirmed by contacts working at laboratories that are part of Indian SARS-CoV-2 Genomic Consortia (INSACOG) which is set-up by the Union Health Ministry in December last year in the backdrop of the emergence of a newly identified variant of the SARS-CoV-2 virus in the UK, South Africa and some other parts of the world.

The Centre-run National Centre for Disease Control is the agency of the consortium.

Sujeet Kumar Singh, Director, NCDC also confirmed with IANS that over 24,000 mutations in the virus have been recorded in India. “We have found these mutations in over 6,000 variants and submitted it to an international consortium which collects the data to predict and analyse trends of virus spread in geographical locations,” he said.

INSACOG is a consortium of 10 labs namely DBT-NIBMG Kalyani, DBT-ILS Bhubaneswar, ICMR-NIV Pune, DBT-NCCS Pune, CSIR-CCMB Hyderabad, DBT-CDFD Hyderabad, DBT-InSTEM/ NCBS Bengaluru, NIMHANS Bengaluru, CSIR-IGIB Delhi, and NCDC Delhi, formed with an overall aim to monitor the genomic variations in the SARS-CoV-2 on a regular basis through a multi-laboratory network.

Since the rise in daily infections of the Covid-19 one probability that is mostly being explored is the presence of an undetected or multiple strains of novel coronavirus which could be attributing to the gradual increase the country is witnessing for the last one week

While Kerala and Maharashtra continue to report a rise in cases there, a trend of rise in infections in Punjab, Chhattisgarh and Madhya Pradesh is being watched.

However, no evidence so far suggests that the mutations have driven the effective transmission in the country according to Singh.

“Till now, no correlation has been established between the variants and the rise in the number of cases reported in a few states. It is still under investigation,” he said.

“More than 2 lakh mutations in the virus have been recorded globally. But did all the mutations incite a rise in cases? The mutations are a natural process of evolution in a pathogen. It is relevant only if it induces a change in the trend of disease spread,” Singh explained.

Recently a study has been released by the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research — Centre for Cellular and Molecular Biology, which is also one of the INSACOG labs that says N440K, a new Covid-19 variant is spreading a lot more in the southern states.

The findings of the analysis was presented by the scientists of over 5,000 coronavirus variants and how they have evolved over the course of the pandemic

The release said the paper documents the spike mutation landscape of SARS-CoV-2, showcasing the ones that have emerged with high prevalence in the country and abroad.

“The take-home of this comprehensive work is that due to the natural process of mutation, variants will keep emerging,” the study concluded.

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