Researchers identify 73 novel variants of COVID-19 strain

India beats 12 organisations in 10 countries to complete the first field validation

Researchers identify 73 novel variants of COVID-19 strain

Photo for representational purpose only.

Bhubaneswar, August 15

A team of genomic researchers from two institutes has identified 73 novel variants of the COVID-19 strain in Odisha.

The researchers are from CSIR-Institute of Genomics and Integrative Biology (IGIB), New Delhi, and Institute of Medical Sciences and SUM Hospital, Bhubaneswar, he said.

"The research team, which carried out sequencing of 1,536 samples including 752 clinical samples, reported two lineages – B.1.112 and B.1.99 – for the first time in India," Dr Jayashankar Das, lead investigator and director (research) at the IMS and SUM Hospital, said on Friday.

If one gets to know the detailed character of the novel coronavirus, it will be very easy to treat patients and cure them, he said.

The research team, supported by the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR), validated the most-advanced COVID-19 sequencing technology. This could be a potential high-sensitivity assay for the detection of SARS- CoV-2 with the additional advantage of enabling genetic epidemiology of SARS-CoV-2, Das said.

With this study, India has beaten 12 organisations in 10 countries to complete the first field validation and release the data online, he said, quoting a report by sequencing tech giant Illumina.

The IMS and SUM Hospital researchers are also undertaking the sequencing and analysis of 500 viral genomes to understand the mild, moderate and critical coronavirus infection along with its transmission capabilities, he said.

Besides, the study will help understand the vulnerability of the strains, new therapeutic targets and new mutations in eastern India, especially in Odisha, Das said.

The rapid emergence of COVID-19 as a pandemic, which has affected millions of people across the world, has necessitated sensitive and high-throughput approaches for the diagnosis, surveillance and determining the genetic epidemiology of SARS-CoV-2, which will help in tracking strain information as well, he said.

Asked about the difference between RT-PCR test and COVID-19 sequencing tests, Das said, "The COVID-19 sequencing reports give the entire history of the coronavirus, while the RT-PCR tests only determine whether a patient is positive or negative for the infection." PTI

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