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  4. Exclusive: ‘SARS-CoV2 is probably quite resilient’, warns Indian biologist researching coronavirus

Exclusive: ‘SARS-CoV2 is probably quite resilient’, warns Indian biologist researching coronavirus

Justifying the 21-day lockdown call by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Dr Dinesh Gupta from Italy’s International Centre for Genetic Engineering & Biotechnology said that if coronavirus survived in Indian heat, then it could enhance itself

Dhairya Maheshwari Reported by: Dhairya Maheshwari New Delhi Updated on: March 25, 2020 20:40 IST
An India TV illustration
Image Source : FILE

An India TV illustration

A team of Indian computation biologists has warned that the novel coronavirus appeared to be “quite resilient” and if it survived the heat of the upcoming Indian summer season, the chances of human-to-human transmission could be “enhanced.”

The Indian team further found the mutations in the spike protein of the SARS-CoV2 virus sequences from India, when compared to sequences of viruses from other countries.

"This means that the novel coronavirus that was sequenced will have different behaviour in terms of its attachment and entry to human cells. It has already shown high transmissibility so far and if it survives the heat of the upcoming Indian summer, the chances of human-to-human transmission may be enhanced," explained Dr Dinesh Gupta, who led a group of four scientists for this research under auspices of Italy-headquartered, New Delhi component of International Centre for Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology (ICGEB).

"The SARS-CoV2 virus is probably quite resilient," Dr Gupta said, in an emailed response to India TV Digital.

“It is very important to stop the virus transmission, which also justifies the steps being taken by the Indian government,” he noted. Dr Gupta was responding to question on the survivability of coronavirus in Indian summer conditions.

The remarks by Dr Gupta came amid a 21-day lockdown by the Indian authorities, which is part of a massive countrywide effort to check the spread of coronavirus. 

In general, viruses have a tendency to mutate under different conditions to survive, attach, invade and infect human cells, Dr Gupta noted.

Dr Gupta’s team, comprising Rahila Sardar, Deepshikha Satish, and Shweta Birla, recently published a research paper titled ‘Comparative analyses of SAR-CoV2 genomes from different geographical locations and other coronavirus family genomes reveals unique features potentially consequential to host-virus interaction and pathogenesis,’ which was carried in bioRxiv, a preprint biological journal server based at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory in the US.

For their research, the team depended on “integrated sequence-based analysis of SARS-CoV2 genomes” from different geographical locations, including India, Italy, USA, Nepal and Wuhan.

When questioned if the Indian team’s research threw any light on the resistibility of Indian genes to the SARS-CoV2 virus, Dr Gupta said that his research was preliminary and we don’t wish to overclaim as “it is based on comparison of the only available sequence from India (not Indian strain) at that time.”

“After we published, we have another sequence available from India,” he added.

Throwing more light on the two sequences from India available now, Dr Gupta said that both were “different from each other.”

“Intriguingly, when these two sequences are compared with the virus sequences from other geographical locations, unique mutations in the spike proteins are present in both the sequences,” said Dr Gupta.

Also read: China using Uyghurs from Xinjiang camps as cover-up for new coronavirus cases, alleges Taiwanese think tank

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