NEW YORK :
The virus is taking on an average 15 days for mutating. But this does not mean that the virus is becoming dangerous
EVEN as researchers across the world work overtime to understand evolution of the virus that causes the disease COVID-19, scientists have identified at least eight strains of coronavirus doing the rounds globally. Over 2,000 genetic sequences of the virus submitted from laboratories across the world to the open-source project Nextstrain.org show how the virus is migrating into new subtypes.
According to a report in ‘National Geographic’, the data at the site, including samples from every continent except Antractica, showed the virus is taking on an average 15 days for mutating. This, however, does not mean that the virus is becoming dangerous. Rather, these mutations are helping scientists understand their behaviour and origin. “These mutations are completely benign and useful as a puzzle piece to uncover how the virus is spreading,” Nextstrain cofounder Trevor Bedford, a computational biologist at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle, US, was quoted as saying. “One thing that’s become clear is that genomics data gives you a much richer story about how the outbreak is unfolding,” Bedford said.
Looking at the evolution of the virus also helped scientists debunk the conspiracy theory that the virus might have originated in laboratories. The novel SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus that emerged in the city of Wuhan, China, last year and has since caused a large scale COVID-19 epidemic is the product of natural evolution, according to a study published in the journal ‘Nature Medicine’.
The analysis of public genome sequence data from SARS-CoV-2 and related viruses found no evidence that the virus was made in a laboratory or otherwise engineered. “By comparing the available genome sequence data for known coronavirus strains, we can firmly determine that SARS-CoV-2 originated through natural processes,” said corresponding author on the paper Kristian Andersen, Associate Professor of Immunology and Microbiology at Scripps Research Institute in the US.
US, Italy strain more virulent than one in India: Top Indian microbiologists
Apr 1 (IANS)
THE strain of new coronavirus in India is not as virulent as the ones which are devastating Italy, Spain and the US. In an in depth genomic analysis of rapidly revolving SARS-CoV-2(COVID-19) viruses, top Indian microbiologist Rup Lal, and his team of 16 scientists have discovered that strain found in India, matches with the sequence of new coronavirus found in Wuhan, and is less virulent. The study analysed the data taken from different countries including, Italy, Spain, US, China, Nepal and India. “The study shows that virus is mutating very rapidly. In simpler words, we can say the virus is changing its structure quickly, which means it will be difficult to develop a vaccine for prevention from this dreaded virus. “Even if we develop a vaccine, we are not sure that the same vaccine will work in other parts of the world, looking at the nature of different strains of COVID-19,” said Lal, a senior scientist with The Energy and Resources Institute(TERI). On why people are dying more in Spain, Italy and now in the US, scientist Vipin Gupta, a key member of Lal’s team said that in their study it was discovered that virus which changed itself rapidly in Europe and then in the US, was more devastating. On being asked about the virus isolated here in India, Gupta said: “We cannot conclude but safely say at this point, that strains of virus found in India is less virulent when we compare it with the US’.”