Five cases of mutant covid19 have been confirmed in Jammu, even as the government maintains that no such case has been in Kashmir so far.
Financial Commissioner (FC) Heath and Medical Education, Atal Dulloo said that five cases of infection with mutated strains of COVID19 have been confirmed in Jammu division. He said the strain was identified as UK variant in the majority and "another kind" in one.
"In Kashmir, none of the samples that have been reported after genome sequencing till date, has been shown to have a mutated strain," he said.
The FC said rise in cases was a concern and measures were being taken on daily basis to address the situation and curtail the spread.
After high sero-prevalence of COVID19 antibodies in Kashmir, the steep rise in infections here is worrying doctors.
Many doctors while speaking to Greater Kashmir said that they have witnessed a number of cases in the past weeks where the patient fell sick again due to COVID19 months after they had their initial positive test and spell of sickness. "Many prominent people in Kashmir have tested positive recently, although they had tested positive in past as well. Some of them are sick as well," said a senior healthcare professional wishing anonymity.
He said the re-infections of SARS-CoV2 were not seen previously in Kashmir and are a new trend. "It strongly points towards a mutated strain and we need to have a more rigorous exercise to identify these strains," he said.
However, the nodal agency for genome sequencing in Kashmir, SKIMS Soura said that adequate number of samples were being subjected to genome sequencing. "We have received reports of 231 samples till date, which is 5 percent of the positive cases," Dr Bashir Fomda, head department of Microbiology at SKIMS Soura said. In addition, he said, samples of 16 people with international travel history and positive for COVID19 were also subjected to genome profiling and were found negative for the mutated strains of SARS-CoV2.
In October last year, sero-survey of samples across Kashmir had revealed that 4 out of every 10 individuals had antibodies for SARS-CoV2. In addition, the survey had also shown that nearly 20 percent of people were recovering at that time from the infection and hypothetically were in the process of developing antibodies. Presence of antibodies in blood is considered an indicator of the capacity to fight subsequent infections – body's own immunity.
Public Health expert and head of Social and Preventive Medicine at GMC Srinagar, Dr S Saleem Khan said that the re-infections could be due to "waning antibodies" amongst population. "The antibodies, as we had said earlier too, do not last forever," he said, adding that hypothetically, post a COVID19 infection, in 3-4 months, a person may against get infected if exposed. "It can be earlier too. It will vary from person to person," he said.
In India SARS-CoV-2 Consortium on Genomics (INSACOG), a group of 10 national laboratories established by the health ministry in December studies genetic mutations. Recently, GoI said that out of 10,787 positive samples shared by states, 771 variants of Concern (VOCs) were detected by the genomics consortium.