Like other viruses, coronavirus too changes when spreading from one to another. So many Variants of covid-19 have been formed. Most of these are inconsequential. The way it behaves does not alter. But at times it enters the human body and the protein responsible for entering changes. These may lead to severe infections. It could evade vaccines and cause more severe diseases too. Such variants have already been found. Some variants are in the UK, Brazil, South Africa. It’s already spread over dozens of countries. A US health officer has warned that some highly contagious cases are being fueled, so we are to face “a potential fourth surge of cases”. The brazil variant is more contiguous. Scientists say that it could evade immunity by the past infection. The British variant is responsible for the spread in the UK and Europe.
At the moment the genome detectives find out almost all the Variants of covid-19. By taking a swab from an infected person they can find them. They do it in three steps.
- Genetic code is cracked out.
- Find out through a manual book.
- The variants are found out.
At present India is the country which is being affected a lot. It is where we can get more information about Variants of covid-19.
India and the virus.
In the genome of the new coronavirus, India is the fifth country to sequence it. From January the January Kerala region was isolated. There are more than 11 million cases found in the country. More than 150000 deaths are being reported. To track the genetic history of local samples India has begun to beef up.
Unfortunately, the number of patients per day is increasing day by day. As the government of the country even faces issues due to this. Due to these, the timing has become more critical. There are fears that the new variants of the virus will spike.
242 cases of foreign Variants of covid-19 are found in India. Most of them are the UK ones. Scientists believe that foreign variants are not the main reason. They say the spread is due to the least guard of people against the virus.
How tests are done and views of higher health authorities of India.
In Maharashtra and Telangana the spread is at a very high level. So the genome scientists are investigating two Variants of covid-19 found in these areas. Dr. Sujeet Kumara Singh (director of India’s National Centre for Disease Control) says that they are collecting samples from those areas. That is to find whether there is any linkage between the two variants.
A paper was published by genome scientists in January. It was mentioned that India so far hasn’t come to full capacity. From 10.4 million cases it has only deposited 6400 genomes (0.06%). To get accurate results a task is done. They have formed a new consortium of 10 genomic labs.
Dr Shahid Jammel (one of the leading virologists of the country) has told us that we must prevent the spread of variants of concern among the population. That does not imply although it doesn’t happen now, it will not in the future too. So we must be sure that we could obtain evidence early itself.
Dr Anurag Agarwal (director of the Delhi-based Institute of Genomics and Integrative Biology (IGIB), a leading genomic lab) says that’s the reason why genome sequencing matters. India has budgeted $14m to start the sequencing efforts. The aim is to sequence 5% of all which have tested positive through gold-standard PCR (isolate genetic material from a swab web and also which have a high viral load). It is a double target.
Variation of the virus
Dr Rakesh Mishra(The director of the Hyderabad-based Centre for Cellular and Molecular Biology (CCMB))says that to find how the virus varies they have sequenced more than 6000 samples. Most of it was of a single variant. They assume it has arrived through travellers of Europe. 7600+ mutations have been found which are of no consequence. (The director of the Hyderabad-based Centre for Cellular and Molecular Biology (CCMB)).
Other than other cities more mutations are found in Bangalore. So they say mutating is quicker than before. 27 genomes are found in three strains identified. Since India is a diverse country it’s hard to sequence at a scale.
Locally samples must be collected. That could be done with the automation of jobs at different levels. Reagents must be imported as well as they are expensive. Machines map genomes while freezers store samples. These must be collected in person. After that, they must be stored in special containers. They must be shipped across the country. It is done best in Kerala.
Usually, it takes about 48 hours. Immigrants of other countries are kept in isolation. So if it is of an immigrant it must be out early. It is said that without doing the complete sequence, it is found out to identify the variant by Dr Mishra.
So we should take all the precautions that could stop the spread of the virus. So we can save people who would get infected.