‘Double mutation found in 61% of 361 COVID-19 samples’

Mumbai, Apr 14 (PTI): Double mutation has been detected in 61 per cent of the total 361 COVID-19 samples tested between January and March this year, a genome sequencing expert claimed on Wednesday even as he raised doubts over the methods of sample collection being adopted by authorities in Maharashtra, which is worst affected by the pandemic.
However, experts in the fields of genome sequencing and cell science have observed that such a small sample size cannot be considered as an indication of the spread of the mutated virus. These 361 samples were tested at the genome sequencing laboratories in Maharashtra.
On the other hand, authorities and officials of civic bodies that are collecting COVID-19 samples daily have complained about the lack of communication from the genome sequencing laboratories in Maharashtra as well as from the Centre about their findings on the sample analysis.
This lack of communication is resulting in civic bodies and state health officials remaining in the dark and thus unable to come up with a better strategy to curb the rapid spread of coronavirus in Maharashtra, they said.
“I am told that out of 361 COVID-19 samples tested by the National Institute of Virology in Pune, 61 per cent had the double mutation. However, this sample size is too small to conclude as Maharashtra has been conducting nearly two lakh tests per day. One should not take such a small sample size as an indication that the mutated virus is widespread,” a senior genome sequencing expert told PTI.
Maharashtra is witnessing an unprecedented spike in coronavirus positive cases for the last few weeks.
As of Tuesday, the cumulative tally of the infections in Maharashtra, the worst-hit state in India, stood at 35,19,208 while the death toll stood at 58,526, as per the state health department.
Maharashtra had 5,93,042 active cases as of Tuesday.
“Concerns were raised recently about the methods of sample collection being adopted by civic bodies and local health officials who are conducting daily COVID-19 tests,” the expert said.

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