First case of virus mutation confirmed from Kashmir

GK File Image

A sample sent from Kashmir for genetic sequencing has been found to have a lesser known N440K mutation by India SARS-CoV-2 Consortium on Genomics (INSACOG). While it is the first case of a Covid variant confirmed in Kashmir, Jammu has recorded 28 positives so far.

Financial Commissioner Health and Medical Education, Atal Dulloo on Thursday said samples were being regularly sent to the INSACOG for helping track the trends in circulating virus better. He said till date Jammu has seen 28 cases of mutations. In Kashmir, he said, 381 samples had been sent for genome sequencing.

Head, department of Microbiology, Prof Bashir Ahmed Fomda said reports of 118 samples that had been sent for sequencing have been received. “Only one of these has been found to have mutation,” he said. While detailing, he said the variant that has been identified by the genomic study is “lesser known”. “It is identified as N440K,” he said. He said the same mutation has been found in some samples from Jammu division and was very common in Andhra Pradesh, Maharashtra and Telangana.

N440K was first reported from parts of India in February with GoI stating that it had “not found any direct relation between the recent surge”. Prof Fomda said mutation was a natural process in virus life and mutation did not always mean a more lethal virus. “Usually, viruses mutate and are more a concern in proliferation than mortality,” he said. He said the behavior of this strain was being studied and not much could be said at this stage.

A senior healthcare professional said J&K was “in dark” as far as genomic composition of virus was concerned. “How many samples are sent for testing and how many reports have received till date? Is that a representative number,” he said. He said it could not be without a mutation that there was such a sudden spike in cases presently.