Feb spike of Covid-19 in several states: What we know about mutants, variants
Apart from a general non-adherence to Covid-19 safety norms, mutant strains of covid-19 found in samples of Maharashtra district Amravati, Yavatmal were believed to be responsible for the rise of the number of daily infections locally. But the rise is not limited to Maharashtra. Several states where mutant strains have not been found are seeing a spike in the number of cases. And scientists dismissed any link between the resurgence of cases and the mutant strains.
Here is what we know about Covid-19 mutants, variants
> Mutants and variants are not the same, scientists have emphasised. While variants differ from the original virus, a mutation is a change in a nucleic acid base or amino acid molecule.
> Mutations eventually accumulate to generate variants that differ from the original virus more and more, and so, a variant can have limited or even cumulative mutations, virologist Upasana Ray told news agency PTI.
> The longer a virus stays in the population and spreads, the more the mutations and hence more variants.
> Mutations are not surprising. Over 7,000 SARS-CoV-2 mutations have been documented, but these are not variants. A study from Hyderabad's CSIR-Centre for Cellular and Molecular Biology put the number of total mutations in India as 7,684.
> These mutations were documents from the data analysis of 6,017 genomes sequenced so far. “That doesn’t mean 7,000 variants are going around in the country. This only shows that the virus is mutating as expected, and we have documented what these mutations are,” CSIR-CCMB director told PTI.
> N440K and E484Q variants of SARS-CoV-2 have been detected in Maharashtra, Kerala and Telangana.
> The N440K mutation has been reported on 13 different occasions between May and September 2020 in Telangana, Andhra Pradesh and Assam.
(With agency inputs)