Scientists claim there may a different strain of coronavirus in India, here is what it may mean
The positive cases of novel coronavirus infection are rising at an unprecedented rate around the world, even as we continue to decipher more about the highly infectious contagion. Scientists and medical experts globally are racking their brains to configure the genetic makeup of the virus and develop a vaccine for the same. As of now, more than 2 lakh 16 thousand coronavirus cases have been reported in India only, while the worldwide toll is inching towards the 7 million mark.
In recent research, scientists at the Centre for Cellular and Molecular Biology (Hyderabad) have identified a unique trait in the SARS-CoV-2 virus present in India. It is interesting to note that this trait is different from the one prevalent in different parts of the world.
What is the unique trait in virus found in India?
According to the scientists, this distinct cluster of the virus population was found in 41 per cent of the genome analysis of SARS-CoV2 virus in the Indian samples. They named this particular trait as “Clade I/A3i”. It is important to note that globally only 3.5 per cent of the genomes submitted into the public domain has this unique trait. Scientists are speculating that this cluster may have originated from an outbreak in February 2020 and then spread throughout India.
“This cluster seems to have originated from an outbreak in February 2020, and spread through India. This comprises 41% of all SARS-CoV-2 genomes from Indian samples, and 3.5% of global genomes submitted into public domain,” the tweet said.
What does the report say
The CCMB is a laboratory under the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) and it shared a link to a fresh preprint on genome analysis of SARS-CoV2 spread in India on Twitter. As of now, this unique trait of the virus is located largely in the southern states of Tamil Nadu and Telangana.
The report which was published in BioRxiv journal which is still under peer review, further stated that epidemiological assessments suggest that the common ancestor emerged in the month of February 2020 and possibly resulted in an outbreak followed by countrywide spread, as evidenced by the low divergence of the genomes from across the country.
What can be the consequences of this unique trait
As per a report in PTI, most of the samples are from the early days when the outbreak first started and largely belong to Tamil Nadu and Telangana. Even the samples found in Delhi shared little similarities to “Clade I/A3i” as the researchers had sequenced complete set of the genetic material.
In an interview with a leading media outlet, one of the authors of the study explained that even though it is too early to elaborate on what the four differences in the sequence of A3i clade could cause, it may potentially make the virus weaker.
In the same interview to the media outlet, the author further elaborated that the A3i clade is also seen to mutate slowly than the A2a clade which “may be disadvantageous for the virus”.