Pune’s NIV finds new variant of COVID-19, symptoms include weight loss, lung lesions


New Delhi: Pune’s National Institute of Virology has found a new COVID-19 variant ‘B.1.1.28.2’ through genome sequencing of samples from international travellers from the United Kingdom and Brazil

The new variant found also comes with severe symptoms as compared to the other strains.

According to a report in Times of India, the findings of the pathogenicity evaluation show increased disease severity and point towards the need for screening of vaccine efficacy. The findings of the pre-print study have been published online on bioRxiv.

The symptoms of the new variant include body weight loss, viral replication in the respiratory tract, lung lesions and was found to cause severe lung pathology in infected Syrian hamster model, the study said. 

A separate study by NIV claims two-dose Covaxin regimen has shown to significantly boost antibody and neutralising efficacy against the variant.

The study on the new variant emphasizes  the necessity of genomic surveillance and characterisation of SARS-CoV-2 variants that will help to understand their pathogenicity and immune escape potential for preparedness of counter-measures.

According to the report, genome sequencing labs are looking at mutants of the virus, which have significant potential of severely affecting disease transmission. 

10 national labs under Indian SARS-CoV-2 Genome Sequencing Consortia have sequenced at least 30,000 samples. The Centre plans to ramp up genome sequencing and recently added 18 more labs to the consortium.

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