Covid variant linked to Nigeria, now found in south India

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The B.1.525 variant, which was first reported in the UK in February this year, has presence in Telangana, Analysis of the SARS-CoV-2 virus has revealed

Enlisted as the variant of interest by the World Health Organization (WHO), out of the 22 samples randomly analysed in April and May in the country, 16 were found in Telangana, Times of India reported.

This variant was also discovered in Australia and Denmark and has been linked to people travelling to Nigeria and getting infected.

“This variety is already present in almost 50 countries and been declared variant of interest out of six variants of interest of Covid-19 in the world. If a region is displaying samples, we need to observe the trend more carefully,” a senior specialist in genome sequencing from Bangalore said.

“However, we cannot come to a conclusion on this immediately,” she added.
GISAID is the Global Initiative on Sharing Avian Influenza maintained by World Health Organization (WHO) and they regularly update the samples from across the globe, even to district level. The data shows that in May, three samples of B1525 collected from the country were from Telangana. In April, out of 19 samples of this variant found in India, 13 were from Telangana.

The GISAID data of genome sequencing of SARSCoV-2 also shows that the state also has more of B.1.617. 2 lineage as expected.

The B.1.617 variant, first found in Maharashtra has three different sublineages, B.1.617.1, B.1.617.2 and B.1.617.3.

Centre for Cellular and Molecular Biology (CCMB) former director Rakesh Mishra said that data can be much more comprehensive than what is uploaded on GISAID.

“Many of the samples in May are of B.1.617. 2 lineage but more data has still to be submitted to GISAID. But the Covid-19 situation cannot just be assessed by presence of variants, the lockdowns and other Covid-19 appropriate measures have also an impact,” Mishra said.

“Any variant can be presumed to be strongly present only when samples are collected from community and not from airport. Most samples may have been from the airport,” Mishra added.


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