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Coronavirus mutated into ten different types: Scientists

According to the study, the A2a mutation has been highly efficient in entering human lungs in large numbers because of which COVID-19 became prevalent across all the regions.

Apr 28, 2020 14:05 IST
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National Institute of Biomedical Genomics in Kalyani, West Bengal has released a study stating that novel coronavirus has mutated into 10 different types, and among them, A2a has become dominant across all the geographical regions.

The virus was first reported in China, in December 2019. As per the authors, the A2a mutation has been highly efficient in entering human lungs in large numbers because of which COVID-19 became prevalent across all the regions.

The study done by Partha Majumdar and Nidhan Biswas of NIBG will soon be published in the Indian Journal of Medical Research. It is a peer-reviewed medical journal published by the Indian Council of Medical Research.

Significance of the study:

The study on the mutation of Coronavirus is important to combat COVID-19 as well as for the development of a vaccine. The research will provide vaccine manufacturers with a specific target.

It will also determine the presence of type A2a co-existing with other types in some of the regions. Studies will help in determining whether the co-existence is because of the ethnic-compositions of the region or the travel patterns.

Evolution of COVID-19 mutation:

Coronavirus has been evolved into newer types during its spread within China and the rest of the world. The virus can be classified into O, A2, A2a, A3, B, B1, and many other types. At present, 11 types have been identified that include type O. It was the ancestral type that originated in Wuhan.

The study states that 10 types of viruses have evolved from the ancestral type ‘O’ over a period of four months. By march-end, A2a started overtaking other types and became the dominant type of SARS-CoV2 which has been efficient in entering human lungs in large numbers.

The previous virus SARS-CoV had infected 8000 people and killed 800 people ten years ago was also capable of infecting lungs but it was not as dangerous as A2a.

How the study was done?

The researchers from NIBG used RNA sequence data that was shared by COVID-19 researchers from all over the world in a public database, Global Initiative on Sharing All Influenza Data (GISAID).

For the study RNA sequences of 3600 coronaviruses that were collected from 55 countries from December 2019 to April 6, 2020, were used.

Observations from the study:

One of the first observations was that the virus has been evolved into other types during the spread within China and all over the world.

Another of the result was that the virus propagates itself by infecting other animals. However, there are mutations that disable the virus from transmitting itself. But this mutation has enabled the virus to transmit more efficiently. Mutant viruses such as SARS-CoV2 increase the frequency of infections and sometimes completely replace the original type of the virus.

The researchers stated that A2a mutation alters the component of the spike protein of a virus that allows it to bind more easily with the surface protein of the lung cell.

Study observation for India:

The RNA sequence used by the researchers from India was 35 which was very small but the study showed that A2a accounted for 47.5% of those samples.

It was also found out, that persons with type A2a didn’t have travel history to countries outside India. Researchers further stated that to find whether A2a is more dominant in India, more RNA sequences will be required.

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