New Covid strain not detected in samples tested in India: ICMR-NARI


Pune: Mutant strain of coronavirus found in the United Kingdom was not seen in the samples tested from various parts of India, Dr Samiran Panda, director of ICMR-National AIDS Research Institute (NARI) said on Tuesday.

Speaking to ANI, Dr Panda said, “We have tested samples collected from the various parts of the country and haven’t seen the mutant strain found in the UK. We shouldn’t think that this will definitely come to India.”

“The transmission and severity of the disease are not known. This particular finding needs to be seen in scientific light and also in the right perspective. We need to be watchful as COVID-19 is a new phenomenon and was unknown to the immune system. The virus changes under immunological pressure for survival and due to proliferation as well,” he explained.

Dr Panda said that whether the new strain of the virus will cause a serious public health threat is unclear as of now. “We are keeping tracking of the viral genome that is circulating within the country. Over the last six-seven months, the viral genome studies that have taken place involving over 2,000 samples that have not identified this mutation.”

He said that India is not a country where all the states are behaving homogeneously. Some of the states are witnessing an upsurge of infection. Behavioural intervention which are the key prevention measures for breaking the chain of virus transmission should be strengthened, irrespective of the new mutant coming to India or not.

Panda said that seven-eleven sub-types of coronavirus are already known but not each one that is identified needs to be seen with panic.

“It is time for us to remain watchful but not to panic. We need to keep a track of human being infected. Many are asymptomatic but those symptomatic, are they recovering well and continue to recover? The fatality rate is remaining low? If all the clinical indications like the severity of the disease, fatality rate are remaining low, we don’t need to panic at all but we need to be watchful that
the scientists are coming across,” he told ANI.

Any vaccine against virus works by stimulating the immune response against different components of the virus. It is premature to think that the efforts to develop a vaccine is going to fall apart. There isn’t enough scientific evidence to say that the vaccine is going to fail, he said.

“We are having our surveillance. There have been a large number of the sample tested and we haven’t seen mutants. But this does not mean that we can let our guards down, it will be disastrous,” Dr Panda concluded. (ANI)