Aligarh: The Aligarh Muslim University Vice-Chancellor, Prof Tariq Mansoor took initiative to thoroughly investigate the COVID-19 strains prevalent in and around Aligarh Civil Lines area, including AMU and surrounding localities to ascertain the possible factor for the high infectivity rate of COVID-19.
At the instance of the Vice-Chancellor, AMU, Viral Research and Diagnostic Laboratory, Department of Microbiology sent 20 samples to CSIR-Institute of Genomics and Integrative Biology, New Delhi for genome sequencing.
According to Professor Haris Manzoor Khan, Chairman, Dept of Microbiology and the principal investigator, Viral Research and Diagnostic Laboratory, AMU, among the 20 samples sent, 18 (90%) had B.1.617.2 lineage referred to as the Double Mutation Variant, first identified in Maharashtra, India on October 5, 2020.
It is a subtype of B.1.617 variant which is the main virus circulating in the second wave of COVID-19 in Uttar Pradesh. WHO has termed it ‘Variant of Concern (VOC)’ because of its higher transmissibility and reduced neutralization from preexisting antibodies. B.1.617 has a higher growth rate than other circulating variants suggesting a potentially increased rate of transmission. WHO does not term it as “Indian Variant” and urges to use scientific terms.
B.1.617 variant, thought to be partly responsible for India’s devastating second wave, had three sublineages namely: B.1.617.1, B.1.617.2 and B.1.617.3.
One sample had the B.1.1.7 lineage which is 40-80% more transmissible than the wild type SARS CoV-2 and was first detected in the UK.
One sample had the B.1 lineage which was responsible for outbreaks in 2020 mainly in Italy that later spread to the rest of the world. However, no new strain was detected.
Active campaigns have been undertaken in the university to mitigate the problem of Covid-19 infection in the form of aggressive mobilization for Vaccination; emphasis on the importance of Social Distancing; Washing of hands or sanitizing them regularly and wearing Face masks and going outdoors when absolutely necessary.
The University thanks the Director ICMR, Director CSIR-Institute of Genomics and Integrative Biology, New Delhi, and all the concerned scientists for their cooperation.