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RTPCR tests in use in India do not miss UK, Brazil, South Africa and double mutant variants: health min

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RTPCR tests in use target more than two genes sensitivity and specificity remains the same as earlier

As on April 15, 13,614 Whole Genome Sequencing (WGS) samples have been processed at the 10 designated labs which are part of the Indian SARS-CoV-2 Genomics Consortium (INSACOG) network.

Of these, 1,189 samples have tested positive for variants of concern for SARS COV-2 in India. This includes 1109 samples with UK variants; 79 samples with South African variant and 1 sample with the Brazil variant, as per health ministry data.

The release mentions that the COVID-19 virus has been mutating and various mutations have been found in many countries as well as in India, these include UK (17 mutations), Brazil (17 mutations), and South Africa (12 mutations) variants. These variants have higher transmissibility. The UK Variant has been found extensively in UK, all across Europe and has spread to Asia and America.

The double mutation (two mutations) is another variant and has been found in several countries like Australia, Belgium, Germany, Ireland, Namibia, New Zealand, Singapore, UK, US. Higher transmissibility of this variant is not established as yet.

The release clarified that the RT PCR tests being used in India do not miss these mutations as the RTPCR tests being used in the country target more than two genes. Sensitivity and specificity of the RTPCR tests remains the same as earlier.

The detection of these mutations does not change the strategy of management which remains to test, track, trace and treat. The use of masks remains as the most important shield to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

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