N440K variant of Coronavirus dominant in Telangana, AP

Double mutant strains found in 4-5% of samples in Telangana

By   |  Published: 20th Apr 2021  12:07 amUpdated: 20th Apr 2021  12:13 am

Hyderabad: The N440K mutation of the SARS-CoV-2 virus is circulating dominantly in Telangana and Andhra Pradesh. Till recently, the ‘double mutation’ of the coronavirus, being associated with the massive surge of Covid cases in Maharashtra, Gujarat and other parts of the country, was found in four to five per cent of the samples in Telangana, Centre for Cellular and Molecular Biology (CCMB) Director Dr RK Mishra said.

The top geneticist said under the Indian SARS-CoV-2 Genomic Consortia (INSACOG) established by the Centre, in the coming days, genomic sequencing of samples in the two Telugu States and even in other Indian States would be taken up at a much more rapid pace.

“The N440K mutation has been there in TS and AP for a long time while recently the double mutant variant was found in just four to five per cent of the samples tested. However, during pandemics, things change very quickly and under INSACOG, we will rapidly increase genome sequencing of samples from across the country, which will give us a better picture on variants,” Dr Mishra said.

The city-based CCMB is one of the major gene-sequencing centres of INSACOG and researchers receive samples from passengers at airports from across the country. In fact, CCMB is the first to detect the UK variant in the country from passenger samples.

“We are closely and constantly monitoring new variants like double mutations, which is not much there in TS or AP. However, there is every chance that its presence may increase. We will pick up more samples and ramp up genome sequencing in the coming days,” Dr Mishra said.

The senior researcher, however, pointed out that apart from the role of variants like N440K and ‘double mutations’, it is the utter disregard towards precautions by the public that has fuelled the surge of new Covid infections across the country.

“You just go out to any shopping centre or a mall, nobody is wearing a mask or taking any basic precaution. People are meeting in large numbers at bars, restaurants, public transport facilities and cinema halls etc. On top of this, there are marriages, get-togethers, birthday parties, religious activities where people give scant respect to precautions,” Mishra said.

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