More COVID cases should be tested for genome sequencing, says virologist

ANI
·2-min read
Representative Image.
Representative Image.

New Delhi [India], January 1 (ANI): With the cases of the new variant of the strain of coronavirus having gone up to 25 in India, a Delhi-based virologist has suggested that there should be more genome sequencing of positive cases.

The new variant found in the United Kingdom is known to spread faster.

Dr Shahid Jameel, virologist and director, Trivedi School of Biosciences in Delhi said the country has reported a total of over 10 million COVID-19 cases and noted that a fast-spreading variant does not have to come from outside.

"We have more than 10 million confirmed cases and possibly 150 to 200 million infections already. That is a tremendous pool of viruses to mutate and develop new variants. A fast-spreading variant does not have to come from outside. It can also develop within the country. That is why we should sequence more viruses in India," he said.

Dr Jameel said the new variant includes two key changes or mutations in its genetic sequence which have led to two changes in the viral spike protein at position 501 and 681.

"The first change is in a region called the Receptor Binding Domain (or RBD) and allows the virus to bind better to the ACE2 receptor on cells. The second change allows the virus to enter cells more efficiently. While these mutations were earlier seen independent of each other, these came together for the first time in the variant found in the UK," he said.

Dr Jameel said that although cases are coming down in India on average since September everything has not normalised.

"The downward curve hides localised spikes and that would continue to happen," he said.

As per the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare (MoHFW), India's total active COVID-19 caseload significantly dropped to 2,54,254, which is the lowest after 179 days. In the last 24-hours, 23,181 recoveries have been recorded against 20,035 cases. (ANI)