Indian coronavirus strain may have originated in Europe, West Asia: Study
As COVID-19 cases near 3 lakh in India, a recent study has revealed that SARS-CoV-2 strain in the country might have originated in Europe, West Asia, Oceania and South Asia. The study conducted by the Indian Institute of Science (IISc) in Bengaluru implied that the virus had spread from the most-travelled countries.
The IISc team, comprising Kumar Somasundaram, Mainak Mondal, and Ankita Lawarde, analysed 294 Indian viral genomes to determine the genetic diversity among Indian SARS-CoV-2 viral isolates in comparison to the strains that are occurring worldwide.
The team deconstructed components of the Indian SARS-CoV-2 and set it apart from other variations that exist across the world. “Among different strains of the virus as identified by Global Initiative on Sharing All Influenza Data, viruses in India are enriched with G (50 per cent) and I (6.7 per cent) clades in addition to 40 per cent samples with unknown genetic variants,” it said.
“Comparison of viral genome sequences from different regions/countries allows us to identify the genetic diversity among viruses which would help in ascertaining virulence, disease pathogenicity, as well as the origin and spread of SARS- CoV-2, between countries,” the team added.
According to the team, the low infection rate in India, compared to countries like the US, could be due to the lockdown with effective social distancing, active identification of patients, quarantining them with proper treatment, presumed cross-immune protection, and possible variation in the viral strains that are introduced or is prevalent in the country.
The team is also trying to find the functional impact of the high occurrence of non-synonymous mutations on viral proteins. It will use this information to understand immune escape mechanisms and develop mutant-specific therapies.