While all of us are trying our best to keep away from the deadly strain of the Coronavirus and the doctors are trying to find an absolute solution, there might be another virus strain that India might need to be prepared for.
It turns out, India may be battling against multiple strains of the virus, SARS-Cov-2.
One of the reasons for the high number of cases in Gujarat, the state with the second highest death toll at 151 deaths is said to be the presence of a more virulent strain of the virus, classified as L-type, which, as per a study done in China on patients in Wuhan, is more aggressive than the S-type (another type of SARS-Cov-2 strain) due to the potentially higher transmission and/or replication rates.
Analysis done by scientists abroad has shown that the L-type strain has been dominant where more mortality is reported among coronavirus patients. This strain was found to be more prevalent in Wuhan.
The GBRC recently succeeded in decoding the entire genome sequence of the novel coronavirus, and identified its three new mutations.
According to a scientist at the state-run Gujarat Biotechnology Research Centre (GBRC), the novel coronavirus used for genome sequencing during a recent study was found to contain the L-type strain.
That could also explain the high fatality count in Indore, which is now the epicentre of Covid-19 in Madhya Pradesh, with 57 deaths, which is over 55% of the state’s total death toll of 103.
The strain in Indore hasn’t yet been identified; samples have been sent to the Pune-based National Institute of Virology to ascertain if the strain found in the city is deadlier than those found in samples from other parts of the country.
While the fatality rate could also be high due to other underlying illnesses in people suffering from Covid-19, termed as comorbidities should it be confirmed, it would make the task of controlling Covid-19 more challenging as the current testing detects the presence of the virus only, not its strain.
It would also make the task of finding a cure and a vaccine that much more difficult as each strain may require a different treatment protocol. The only silver lining as the Chinese study found was that while the L-type was more prevalent in the early stages of the outbreak in Wuhan, its frequency decreased after January 2020.