While the first confirmed Covid-19 case in India was registered on the 30th of January in Kerala, Times of India has reported that the most recent common ancestor of Indian strains of COVID-19 could have been in the country as early as November 2019.
Using a scientific technique called 'time to most recent common ancestor', MRCA, scientists estimated the strain that has gone viral in Telangana and other states had originated between 26th November and 25th December, with the median being the 11th of December.
However, since tests were not being carried out on a large scale in the country at that time, it is impossible to tell whether the virus was introduced to India by passengers from China prior to the 30th of January.
CCMB director, Dr Rakesh K Mishra spoke to reporters about the time of origin of a new strain of the virus and said:
The viral strain found in India’s first Covid-19 case in Kerala belonged to the Wuhan ancestor, while the one discovered from Hyderabad (Clade I/A3i) is unique as it did not originate in China but somewhere in Southeast Asia. The exact country of origin of this new clade is not known.
As far as the most recent common ancestor of the new strain (Clade I/A3i) is concerned, it was reportedly in circulation between the 17th of January and the 25th of February, with the median being the 8th of February.