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COVID– OMICS and the global variants

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26 May 2021

Despite intense research, it is uncertain to trace back the cause behind infectious diseases, including Covid 19. The origin of the prevailing SARS-Cov-2 is still debated, as it is from the Wuhan market or Wuhan Institute of Virology. The very first case of Covid 19 was reported in Wuhan, Hubei province on 12th December 2019, with major symptoms including severe respiratory illness, fever and cough. The RNA sequence data confirmed the infection with a virus under the family coronaviridae and was named the WH-Human 1’ coronavirus (now referred to as Covid 19 or 2019-nCoV). While the world was busy designing vaccines, many new variants emerged across the world. On 14 December 2020, UK reported a SARS-Cov-2 VOC 202012/01 with 23 nucleotide substitutions and no common phylogenetic relation with the previous Wuhan strain. Similarly, 31 countries under WHO, the World Health Organization, started reporting the new strains. Currently CDC, the Centre for Disease Control, USA, have classified Coronavirus variants into VOI (a variant of interest) and VOC (a variant of concern), among which the VOI will require basic laboratory studies along with sequence surveillance and VOC must require more attention amidst the public alongside notifying WHO, efforts to spread control and increased testing, research to determine the effectiveness of the vaccines and treatment against the variants. The major variants of concerns currently are B.1.1.7 (UK), B.1.351 (SA), B.1.427 and B.1.429 (USA), P.1 (Japan / Brazil) and the new double mutant Indian variant B.1.617, which was recently added to the list. The genomic analysis of the SARS-Cov-2 on a global level is performed and maintained by research group across the world under two repositories, the PANGO lineages and the Nextstrain, in which CSIR-IGIB-Dr Vinod scaria lab and CSIR-CCMB-BIC-GEAR19 have been actively contributing in sequence surveillance of various strains across India. Successful sequencing of various strains has given clues to scientist and medicos towards a better diagnosis and integrative therapeutic innovation for different ethnic groups.

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Sree Varshini M

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