Hyderabad: Scientists at Hyderabad’s Centre for Cellular and Molecular Biology (CCMB) have discovered a new virulent strain of the coronavirus in India that they think is more virulent and could be responsible for the widespread death being witnessed in Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu and Delhi.
“Here is a fresh preprint on genome analysis of SARS-CoV2 spread in India. The results show a distinct cluster of virus population, uncharacterised thus far, which is prevalent in India — called the Clade A3i,” CCMB tweeted.
This cluster seems to have originated from an outbreak in Feb 2020, and spread through India. This comprises of 41% of all SARS-CoV2 genomes from Indian samples, and 3.5% of global genomes submitted into public domain. (2/2)
— CCMB (@ccmb_csir) June 1, 2020
The research institute has named this unique cluster of the virus as ‘Clade A3i’, which it says is found in 41 per cent of the genome sequenced in India.
According to the study, which is still under peer review by bioRxiv journal, Clade A3i has not been found in any other part of the world. CCMB scientists say the virus has mutated in India because of the different genetic material found here.
The coronavirus strains found in other countries have been named as A2a, A3, B and B4.
This cluster has four different strains. Of these, C13730T has been found to be the most virulent.
The study said this strain has been found in the highest proportions in Tamil Nadu, Telangana, Maharashtra, and Delhi. It was found in lower concentrations in Bihar, Karnataka, Uttar Pradesh, West Bengal, Gujarat, and Madhya Pradesh.
Scientists collected samples from Telangana on March 11 and subsequently from Delhi, Maharashtra and other states. When these samples were analysed, it was found that a new cluster had emerged in February and led to the mutation of the virus and further spread of the infection.
While stating that the strain is similar to the ones detected in Singapore and the Philippines, Rakesh Mishra, director of CCMB and co-author of the paper, said genome sequencing of more samples will be done in the coming days which will help in knowing more about the strain.