Over 7k coronavirus mutations in India, many have serious risks: Scientist

The word "COVID-19" is reflected in a drop on a syringe needle in this illustration taken November 9, 2020. Illustration: REUTERS/Dado Ruvic

New Delhi: There are more than 7,000 coronavirus mutations in India of which some could pose a serious risk, a senior scientist said on Monday.

Rakesh Mishra, Director of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research  Centre for Cellular and Molecular Biology, said among the variants, N440K is spreading a lot more in the southern states.

The CCMB alone has done an exhaustive analysis of over 5,000 coronavirus variants in India and how they have evolved over the course of the pandemic.

A team of the CCMB scientists also published a paper on their findings  SARS-CoV-2 genomics: An Indian perspective on sequencing viral variants. 

There are more than 7,000 coronavirus mutations in the country, said Mishra, who is also one of the co-authors of the paper. 

The Hyderabad-based Institute has been studying the evolution of the virus, its mutations and strains ever since the pandemic hit the country. 

Mishra, however, added that not every mutation becomes a variant. 

He added that it is necessary to step up sequencing. 

India has so far not been sequencing SARSCoV-2 isolates to full capacity, having deposited only about 6,400 genomes of the over 10.4 million recorded cases (0.06 per cent). 

Exploiting advances in genomic epidemiology by monitoring and increasing sequencing efforts following local spikes will go a long way in staying on top of mutations of concern while their biology and effects are studied in greater detail, the paper said. 

After the evolution of the UK and Brazilian strains of coronavirus which are found to be more transmissible, the Indian government stepped up the sequencing the genomes.

An Indian SARS-CoV-2GenomicConsortia (INSACOG) comprising 10 institutes was also formed for this purpose. The CCMB is a part of the consortium.

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