This is as per a study conducted by CSIR-IGIB and other institutes.


New Delhi: Scientists attached with CSIR-Institute of Genomics and Integrative Biology and other institutes have claimed that there are 86 genetic variants in coronavirus that are associated with immune escape or resistance to antibodies in the world. A study was conducted by scientists from CSIR- IGIB, Academy of Scientific and Innovative Research (AcSIR), and Kurnool Medical College. The study is called “Genetic epidemiology of variants associated with immune escape from global SARS-CoV-2 genomes” and it is prepared by a group of 15 scientists from these institutions.

According to the report, out of the 86 escape mutants or variants, 19 are present in India. The scientists analysed 240133 SARS-CoV-2 genome sequencing, including 1,154 genomes from India, from 63 countries.

An escape mutation is the ability of a microorganism to defend itself from the host immune by making in its genotype and phenotype.

According to the report, 86 variants associated with immune escapes were found in a total of 26,917 genomes from 63 countries, out of which nine variants had greater than 1% frequency.

The highest number of escape variants were found in Australia. Out of the 14,222 genomes analysed from Australia, 24 immune escape associated variants mapped to 9,895 genomes, which is 70% of genomes. High frequency of this variant was also found in countries, particularly in Europe.

In India, 19 out of the 86 genetic variants were found in genomes in India. Out of the 19, S:N440K variant was found to have a frequency of 2.1 per cent, and a high prevalence in Andhra Pradesh. This variant was also reported in a case of Covid-19 reinfection from North India.

Meanwhile, the study also mentioned that further data and analysis would be needed to investigate the potential impact of such variants on the efficacy of different vaccines in these regions.

Pradeep Rangappa, Internal Medicine, Columbia Asia Hospital, told The Sunday Guardian, “These kinds of viruses undergo a lot of mutation, and it is the nature of these viruses. These mutations can only be identified through genetic sequencing. When there is an extensive mutation, the virulence, the harmful effect of the virus, the ability to harm and infect more people can only be determined through the kind of mutation that has happened. This virus will fade away over a period of time, so we do not need to worry about it.”

Meanwhile, on Thursday, India recorded five new cases of the UK mutated coronavirus, taking the tally to 25 in the country. Out of the five, four have been traced by the National Institute of Virology, Pune, and one in CSIR-IGIB. The new variant of Covid, which could be up to 70% more transmissible, has been spreading rapidly in the United Kingdom, and it has triggered widespread concern in the world.