New Delhi: With India’s Covid-19 crisis deepening day by day and country’s health infrastructure left in shambles, reports now say that a triple mutation strain has been traced in parts of India. For the unversed, mutation is when the viruses keep changing and the more they spread, the more they mutate, which is what exactly happened in the case of India’s double mutant strain. Notably, the double mutant strain of coronavirus was first detected in October 5 last year through genome sequencing of a virus sample and experts believe that it triggered the recent rapid surge of second Covid wave. Also Read – India’s First AI Based Covid Testing Facility Starts Operations at Delhi’s IGI Airport
A report in the Indian Express said that since both the mutations, E484Q and L425R, were located in the virus’s critical spike protein — that binds it to the receptor cells in the body. The mutation should have been studied on an urgent basis, however, the genome sequencing exercise got stalled between November and January due to lack of funds, and disinterest because of the falling Covid curve.
However, now a third mutation in the B.1.167 has been identified now and experts believe that this time, it will be taken seriously.
What this means for India?
A triple mutant strain could be the next challenge for India and to beat it before it wreaks havoc, as much information on it is the need of the hour. Simply put, a triple mutant refers to variants which have three different strains that have combined together to form a new variant. Two of these triple-mutant varieties have been found in samples collected from Maharashtra, Delhi, West Bengal and Chhattisgarh. Experts have raised alarm and called for a faster genome sequencing, to fully understand the mutant.
“As you can notice, West Bengal seems to be becoming the hotspot for such mutations. The new triple mutant could make the virus even more capable of evading human immune response. We need to do a lot more sequencing of a lot many samples,” said a source.
Experts call for faster Genome sequencing
Genome sequencing which is the study of genetic structures of an organism and the changes happening therein, produces a wealth of information that can throw light on the origins of the virus, the routes it has taken to reach a particular geography and the changes, or mutations, that are making the virus stronger or weaker. Not only that, genome sequencing is also crucial for development of drugs and vaccines to control the pandemic.
“The whole point of gene sequencing is to remain ahead of the curve, anticipate what new variants of the virus are likely to emerge, how they are likely to behave, and what can be done to contain their spread in the population. More the sequences, greater is our information about them, and more effective our response can be,” a scientist associated with the sequencing effort reportedly said.
“Unfortunately, India has been well behind the curve on this front. We have been reacting to the developments, instead of anticipating it,” he added.
So far, sources indicate that the triple mutation is a variant of interest and not concern but a focused study and genome sequencing could help nip it in the bud.
Watch: Triple Mutant Strain In India