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No samples from Amravati, Yavatmal and Satara test positive for any foreign Covid strain: state

PUNE A day after Pune’s government college, the BJ Medical college, and Sassoon General hospital claimed that the samples from Amravati, Satara and Yavatmal showed mutations which escape neutralising antibodies, the state health ministry clarified that none of the mutations were similar to those found in Britain, Brazil or South Africa
By Steffy Thevar and Yogesh Joshi
PUBLISHED ON FEB 19, 2021 09:34 PM IST

PUNE A day after Pune’s government college, the BJ Medical college, and Sassoon General hospital claimed that the samples from Amravati, Satara and Yavatmal showed mutations which escape neutralising antibodies, the state health ministry clarified that none of the mutations were similar to those found in Britain, Brazil or South Africa.

The Maharashtra government in a statement on Friday said, “Till now, BJ Medical college has tested four samples each from Amravati, Yavatmal and Satara. None of the samples showed any mutations similar to the ones being reported from Britain, Brazil or South Africa.”

The samples were sent for genome sequencing in view of increasing cases being reported from these districts.

The state said that although the genomic sequencing of these samples do show certain mutations, these mutations are not similar to ones being reported from other countries.

On Thursday, Dr Rajesh Karyekarte, head of the department of Microbiology at B J Medical College and Sassoon General Hospital, said, “Our findings suggest the D614G strain, which is prevalent, was found in all the samples. The samples from Amravati, Yeotmal and Satara also showed different mutations. For example, in Amravati, we came across a mutation named E484K in all the four samples. When we inquired if all four samples belong to one family, we were informed that all four samples were taken from different locations. So the conclusion was that it was a common mutation.”

Explaining the significance of the mutation, Dr Karyakarte added that the character of the strain found in Amravati is that it escapes neutralising antibodies.

“In a nutshell, even if there are neutralising antibodies in the human body, the particular mutation escapes or saves itself from these antibodies,” he said.

Talking about Yavatmal, he said that in the samples, they did not find any foreign strain, but a new mutation named N440K.

“This particular mutation is commonly seen in Andhra Pradesh. It was also found in a case of re-infection in Delhi. This mutation too can escape the neutralising antibodies and can cause re-infection,” he added.

As far as the Satara samples are concerned, Dr Karyekarte said that they came across a new mutation named V911I.

“Unfortunately, we could not get significant scientific references about this mutation in any published journals,” he added. He added that all these new mutations are specific to India.

“All these strains are of A2 type of coronavirus, which is common in India,” he said.

Dr Murlidhar Tambe, dean of B J Medical and Sassoon General Hospital said that in any major outbreaks or pandemic, following a big curve, small curves take place.

“It seems all these small curves are happening due to lax behaviour such as gathering, weddings and various functions where no physical distancing is followed.”

The state also said that none of the 12 samples sent from Pune showed any mutation following the genomic sequencing.

The district has been reporting an alarming spike in the number of new cases.

“More inquiry is going on and so more samples from Akola, Amravati and Yavatmal have been sent to Pune’s National Institute of Virology and National Centre for Cell Sciences for genomic sequencing. The report is likely to come out new week,” said the state statement.

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