Scientists have discovered a new, previously unknown strain of coronavirus in the state of West Bengal (India). There are several mutations in its genome that are characteristic of the South African and British versions of SARS-CoV-2. The experts published their findings on the medRxiv resource.
A team of researchers led by Mamta Chawla-Sarkar from the National Institute for the Study of Cholera and Intestinal Diseases in Kolkata analyzed samples of sputum and other biological fluids of about two thousand residents of different parts of India who were infected with coronavirus infection in the first quarter of 2021.
Approximately 16% of the samples from West Bengal showed a previously unknown strain, designated GRL.
A detailed analysis of its genome showed that it is not similar to B. 1. 617. 1 (previously discovered in India strain SARS-CoV-2). Most of all, GRL resembled the varieties that spread around the world in the first wave of the pandemic, but it had more than ten new mutations.
Some of the changes resembled mutations in the British and South African versions of the virus. Scientists believe that the spontaneous appearance of these mutations in the genome of a pathogen from another part of the world indicates a similar nature of the evolution of all varieties of coronavirus. It is possible that new dangerous variants of SARS-CoV-2 will occur more often.
We believe that these mutations should make this variety of SARS-CoV-2 more contagious and less visible to the immune system. This may help its spread throughout West Bengal. Like B. 1. 617. 1, this strain of coronavirus may further complicate the epidemiological situation in India, вЂњ the scientists concluded.
Earlier, the head of the Union of doctors of Japan, Naoto Ueyama, said that a large number of people who came from all over the world to the Olympic Games could seriously complicate the epidemiological situation in the country and even threaten the emergence of a new вЂњOlympicвЂќ strain of coronavirus.