Researchers from the Council of Scientific & Industrial Research (CSIR) are trying to establish the prevalence of a unique mutation of the SARS-CoV-2 virus that causes Covid-19 that was discovered in samples of patients a couple of months ago.
The researchers from the CSIR’s Centre for Cellular and Molecular Biology (CCMB) and Institute of Genomics and Integrative Biology sequenced about 64 genomes and found the unique variant called Clade I/A3i. A virus variant is defined as an isolate (or a set of isolates) whose genomic sequence differs from that of the reference virus. It is also termed as a genetic mutation in the original virus.
Hospital-based clinical data is being used to determine the prevalence of Covid-19 infections due to the variant discovered, and to also establish whether the mutation found is functionally silent or has some virulence. In some cases, mutations of disease-causing viruses causes a decline in virulence, but that is yet to established in the case of this mutation.
“More research is needed to get a prevalence of this particular variant among cases of Covid-19 in India, and also (to find out) how virulent is the strain. It can happen only through analysing data from hospitals. Initially, we picked up 30 odd samples but we would need at least five times more samples,” said CCMB director Dr Rakesh Mishra. The datasets of Indian SARS-CoV-2 genomes deposited in Global Initiative on Sharing All Influenza Data till May 25 were used for the analysis. “What we have managed to sense so far is that this particular variant is dying down and other strains are infecting (people) more but this needs to be scientifically established.”