MUMBAI: Almost 50% of samples that tested positive for Covid-19 in the recent state and were sent for genome sequencing have the newly identified and highly infectious Indian variant of SARS-CoV-2 called B.1.617 .
Most of these samples come from Vidarbha, and no sample submitted by the city has so far shown the B.1.617 variant, said scientists involved in INSACOG, a group of 10 national laboratories performing full genomic sequencing of the samples. .
the Union Ministry of Health has so far not given specific details on the entire genome sequencing project. A communication from Friday said that as of Thursday, 13,614 whole genome sequencing samples had been processed in the 10 INSACOG laboratories.
“Of these, 1,189 samples tested positive for the worrying variants of SARS COV-2 in India. These include 1,109 samples with UK variants; 79 samples with the South African variant and one sample with the Brazilian variant, ”the ministry statement said.
Some information on the results of the samples sent by the state was given to Minister of Health Rajesh Tope in a virtual meeting with union Health Minister Dr Harsh Vardhan on Saturday.
Tope said of the 1,100 samples sent so far, 500 samples have been examined. “We requested a detailed report from the central government, but we were told it would only be available after the research was completed,” he said.
The main concern in the state – and the rest of the world as well, as the Indian variant has already been isolated in several samples in the UK and US – is the high transmissibility of the variant. “As the new variant is said to be highly infectious, we requested a report and revised guidelines, if any, from the Center,” Tope said, adding that the Center said a detailed report would only be available at the end of search. .
State Director of Health Services Dr Archana Patil said she knew where the samples in question were taken from. “In some samples, changes are observed, but there is no comment on whether they explain this MaharashtraPatil said.
B.1.617 was first identified by scientists at the Institute of Genomics and Integrative Biology (IGIB) in Delhi as part of the INSACOG project. They noted two mutations, L452R and E484K, which are known to have the ability to escape antibodies.
Articles written by experts around the world have noted that the Indian variant may be “at least in part” behind the current wave sweeping the country. IGIB Director Dr Anurag Agrawal said nearly 15,000 Covid-19 positive samples have been studied since December.
“Our team of scientists identified the variant which has since been named B.1.617. Overall, it is present in a small percentage of samples, but its presence has increased in recent weeks, ”said Dr Agrawal. Scientists in other countries had more details. “The new strain has been detected in at least five Indian states, including Maharashtra, Delhi and Punjab, all of which contributed to the surge in cases in the country, in addition to variants B.1.1.7 (UK), B.1.351 (South Africa) and P.1 (Brazil) which are also circulating (fr) India, ”said William A. Haseltine, former professor at Harvard Medical School, in an article in Forbes.
He wrote that while the extent of the strain’s spread was unknown, of the 2,844 sequences submitted to the GISAID database since March 1, 162 sequences had been classified as B.1.617, or about 6%. “This percentage is likely to increase,” he said.