At least 19 variants of Covid-19 in India have evolved to evade the neutralizing antibodies that the human body produces to fight the virus, reveals a study published in the journal biorxiv. But only one of the mutated variant among them is causing the reinfection cases in India.
According to the study, about 120 immune escape variants have been identified in SARS-Cov-2 from across the globe. An immune escape variant is a mutation in the virus which enables it to evade the immune system.
"Our analysis suggests that a number of genetic variants associated with immune escape have emerged in global populations," said one of the researchers. The study was carried out by the researchers from CSIR Institute of Genomics and Integrative Biology (CSIR-IGIB), New Delhi; Academy of Scientific and Innovative Research (AcSIR), CSIR-HRDC, Uttar Pradesh, and Kurnool Medical College in Andhra Pradesh.
Among the 19 immune escape variants found in India the variant named S: N440K was identified in 2.1 per cent gene sequences in India. This variant is prevalent in Andhra Pradesh wherein the 272 genomes tested, about 33.8 per cent of them tested positive for its presence.
The new and more infectious strain of the virus has now been reported in many countries like France, Australia, South Africa, Germany, Italy, Canada etc. after it has been reported in the UK for the first time.
India had banned flights from the UK when the new strain was reported there but now to prevent the new strain from entering the nation, the people arriving from all the countries where its presence has been confirmed need to be closely monitored.
Viral mutations are a normal process for viruses but the errors it makes during the process leads to genetic mutations. There are growing concerns regarding the challenge the new strains pose for effective vaccination though it has not been proved yet. However, the scientific world is on the lookout for further behavioural and mutational changes that could be exhibited by the virus.