“Combine two mutations” … What do we know about the Indian Corona strain?


08:55 PM

Wednesday 24 March 2021

New Delhi – (BBC)

Researchers have revealed the presence of a new, double-mutating strain of Corona virus in India after examining a group of samples of the infected.

Experts are now working to determine whether the new strain, which combines “two different mutations in the same virus”, is rapidly spreading and how effective the vaccine is on it.

Examination results of 10,787 samples from 18 Indian states indicated that 736 cases were infected with the British strain of the virus, and 34 other cases were infected with the South African strain, while one case was confirmed to be infected with the Brazilian strain.

This news comes at a time when the number of new cases of Corona virus increases in India, but the government said that it has nothing to do with the current rise in the number of infections and those strains.

The number of new infections in India recorded 47,262 cases and 275 deaths on Wednesday, the highest daily toll this year.

The Indian Federation of SARS-Cove 2 Genetics, which is a consortium of ten national laboratories operating under the administration of Indias Ministry of Health, has carried out genetic testing of these samples. Genetic sequencing is a testing process aimed at mapping the genetic code of the organism represented in this case, the Coronavirus.

The virus’s genetic code works like its own instruction manual. Genetic mutations of viruses are common, but most of them are not of great importance and do not cause any change in the ability of the virus to spread or its ability to transmit a dangerous infection.

But some of these mutations, as happened in the British and South African strains, may make the virus more capable of spreading and sometimes more deadly.

Shahid Jamil, a specialist in virology, explained that “the double mutation is two mutations that the virus is exposed to at the same time.”

Jamil said, in statements he made to the BBC: “The double mutation in the basic areas of the cuneiform protein of the virus may increase these risks and may allow the virus to escape from the immune system, making it more able to spread.”

The cuneiform protein is that part of the virus that helps it penetrate into cell walls.

The Indian government said that analysis of samples collected from Maharashtra, western India, showed an “increase in the E484Q and L452R mutations in a sector of samples” compared to the rate of increase observed last December.

A statement issued by the Ministry of Health in India said: “Such mutations give the virus the ability to evade the immune system and increase the rate of infection spread.”

Jamil said: “There may be a separate development of a new strain of the virus in India that includes exposure to the E484Q and L452R mutations together at the same time.”

But the government denied that the high number of new cases had anything to do with these mutations.

The Indian Ministry of Health statement said: “With regard to the strains of interest and the double-mutated strain, no sufficient number of cases have yet been discovered to allow a correlation with the high number of cases or an explanation for the rapid increase in infections in a number of states.”

This report was issued after a number of government experts called for intensified efforts in conducting genetic sequences.

Jamil said, “We need constant monitoring and ensure that these strains of interest do not spread among the population. It does not mean that this is not happening now that it will not happen in the future. We must make sure that evidence is found early enough.”

It is reported that India is the fifth country around the world to conduct a genetic sequence of the Corona virus, after isolating it from the first cases that appeared in the country in January last year.

Efforts to detect the mutations to which the virus is exposed in India continues even after more than 11.7 million cases and 160,000 deaths were recorded due to the epidemic.

The current sharp rise in the number of cases – which occurred in India this month – comes amid what experts call a “sensitive stage” for India in which the country’s health care system has reached a state of exhaustion after a year-long continuous struggle with the Corona virus.

Indian states began to re-impose restrictions to limit the spread of the epidemic, including imposing curfews and intermittent closures.

Two major cities, the capital Delhi and Mumbai, have also imposed rapid random tests to detect the Corona virus at airports, railway stations, and predominantly crowded areas such as shopping centers.

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