Over 5,000 Covid-19 variants prevalent in India, say scientists: Here are more transmissible ones | Latest News India - Hindustan Times
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Over 5,000 Covid-19 variants prevalent in India, say scientists: Here are more transmissible ones

By | Edited by Amit Chaturvedi
Feb 20, 2021 08:53 PM IST

These variants have been discovered after the sudden spike in the number of Covid-19 cases in Maharashtra. All these strains are of A2 type of coronavirus, which is common in India.

A group of scientists have said that more than 5,000 variants of the coronavirus are prevalent in India. The scientists, however, said that the novel variants that are worrying many countries globally have been identified with only a low prevalence in India so far.

A frontline worker receives the dose of Covaxin vaccine, at a hospital in New Delhi on Saturday.(PTI Photo)
A frontline worker receives the dose of Covaxin vaccine, at a hospital in New Delhi on Saturday.(PTI Photo)

The study has been carried out by Hyderabad-based Centre for Cellular and Molecular Biology (CCMB) and Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR).

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Presenting the exhaustive list of the 5,000 variants, the scientists said that some of these variants - like E484K mutation and the N501Y mutation - have higher transmission rate.

"However, their apparent low prevalence might be simply because not enough sequencing has been done. More coronavirus genomes need to be sequenced across the country to accurately identify the emergence of these and other new variants," said Dr Rakesh Mishra, Director, CCMB and corresponding author on the study.

These variants have been discovered after the sudden spike in the number of Covid-19 cases in Maharashtra. All these strains are of A2 type of coronavirus, which is common in India.

One of these mutations - the N440K - was found in a sample collected from Yavatmal in Maharashtra and is more prevalent in South India. N440K was a very small number in September and October last year. But now it is getting a much bigger proportion.

"Closer surveillance is needed to understand the spread of N440K properly. Accurate and timely detection of new variants that may show greater infectivity or worse clinical symptoms, including immune escape, will be extremely important to preempt disastrous consequences," said Dr Mishra.

In their research, the authors explain how different coronavirus variants gained prevalence in India during the last year.

"One of the variants called the A3i had mutations that were predicted to make its spread slower. The study confirms that it was overtaken by the globally prevalent A2a variant, carrying the D614G mutation, by June 2020. The A2a variant has remained in global dominance for the major part of the year 2020. The recently discovered variants in many countries have raised concerns because of their mutations in the Spike protein, that makes the coat of the virus and come in contact with the human cells," said the research.

Dr Surabhi Srivastava, the lead author of the study, said that the success in development and administration of vaccines is promising but other non-therapeutic prevention measures, such as masks and physical distancing, will still prove to be the most effective in curbing further spread of the disease.

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