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US, Italy strain more virulent than one in India: Top Indian microbiologists

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US, Italy strain more virulent than one in India: Top Indian microbiologists
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New Delhi: 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 ofLal's team said 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'."

During the study, Indian microbiologist discovered that genomes of six isolates, specifically from the US, were found to harbour unique amino acid and showed amino acid substitutions in proteins. Interpreting the scientific terminology for common man, Gupta, who specialises in Bioinformatics said, "This suggests the severity of mutating viral genome in the population of US. Simply to say the virus strain in US is quite threatening for humans".

If the virus after entering a human body mutates rapidly then it often becomes difficult to counter it.

Lal says that different strategies are required and seeing the fast changing characteristic of the virus, treatment would also be difficult.

In the US, scientists have suggested that there are 8 different strains of virus, and they have been attacking in different ways. While much is unknown, hidden in the virus' unique microscopic fragments are clues to the origins of its original strain, how it behaves as it mutates and which strains are turning into conflagrations.

"Our study is on, and the more we look deep into the sequence the more facts we will be able to dig out," says Vipin Gupta.

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