Mumbai, Feb 19, 2021: The Maharashtra Health department has issued a statement saying no foreign strain of the virus causing Covid-19 has been found in Amravati and Yavatmal districts of the state so far.
The health department said efforts are on to find why cases are increasing in districts like Amravati, Yavatmal, Satara and Pune.
Sources say four samples each from Amravati, Yavatmal and Satara have been tested at BJ Medical College in Pune. According to test reports, no change has been found in the genetic sequence of the virus in the samples taken from these districts.
This rules out the possibility that the new mutated strains from the UK, South Africa and Brazil have reached these districts.
Twelve samples from Pune have also been tested in this medical college and no change in genetic sequence has been found in them either.
"Further investigations are underway and some more samples from Akola, Amravati and Yavatmal districts have been sent to the National Institute of Virology and National Institute of Cell Science, Pune for genetic testing. A detailed report in this regard is expected by next week," the health department said.
On Thursday, media reports quoted officials saying two new mutations in the virus have been detected in Amravati and Yavatmal.
While the two new mutations were identified, officials said they were not the ones recently found in the UK, South Africa or Brazil.
"In none of the samples for which genome sequencing was done, the UK, South African or Brazilian strains of the virus were found," Dr Rajesh Karyekarte, Head of Department of Microbiology at the state-run BJ Medical College and Sassoon General Hospital told news agency PTI.
He added that genome sequencing was done for 24 samples -- four each from Amravati, Yavatmal and Satara and 12 from Pune.
"We were asked by the state government to conduct genome sequencing of samples. The D614G strain which is prevalent was found in all the samples," he said.
Dr Karyekarte said in Amravati, Yavatmal and Satara, they also came across different mutations.
"In Amravati, we came across a mutation named E484K in all the four samples. When we inquired if all samples belonged to one family, we were told they were taken from different locations, so the conclusion was that it was a common mutation," he said.
The character of the strain found in Amravati is that it escapes neutralizing antibodies, he said.
"In a nutshell, even if there are neutralizing antibodies in the human body, the particular mutation escapes or saves itself from these antibodies," Dr Karyekarte said.
In Yavatmal samples, they found a mutation named N440K, which is commonly seen in Andhra Pradesh, he said.
"It was also found in a case of re-infection in Delhi. This mutation too can escape the neutralizing antibodies and cause re-infection," he added.
In Satara sample, a new mutation named V911I was found but the researchers could not find significant scientific references about this mutation in published journals, he said.
All these strains are of A2 type of coronavirus, which is common in India.