The National Institute of Virology, Pune, has detected a new Covid-19 variant in India— B.18.104.22.168 — through genome sequencing of samples from international travellers from the United Kingdom and Brazil to India.
The new variant, according to media reports, is likely to cause severe symptoms. Pathogenicity evaluation revealed increased disease severity and the need for screening of vaccine efficacy.
The new variant is likely to cause severe symptoms.
The B.22.214.171.124 variant induced body weight loss, viral replication in the respiratory tract, lung lesions and caused severe lung pathology in infected Syrian hamster model, the study said.
NIV, Pune, the two-dose Covaxin regimen significantly boosted antibody and neutralising efficacy against the variant.
The study pointed towards the necessity of genomic surveillance and characterisation of SARS-CoV-2 variants to understand their pathogenicity and immune escape potential for preparedness of counter measures.
Genome sequencing labs are looking at mutants that have significant potential of severely affecting disease transmission. Currently, 10 national labs under INSACOG (Indian SARS-CoV-2 Genome Sequencing Consortia) have sequenced around 30,000 samples. The government plans to ramp up genome sequencing and recently added 18 more labs to the consortium.