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India detects over 24K mutations in 7K variants of Covid



The genetic diagnostic laboratories in India have detected over 24,000 mutations in the strains of SARS-CoV-2 in the last one year, top officials told IANS on Tuesday.

The officials added that the mutations have been detected in around 7,000 variants of the novel coronavirus which are under circulation in the country.

“We have detected around 24,300 mutations in 7,000 variants of the virus currently under circulation,” an official who is a key member of National Task Force for Covid-19 informed.

The information was also corroborated by contacts working at laboratories which are part of Indian SARS-CoV-2 Genomic Consortia (INSACOG) set-up by the Union Health Ministry in December last year in the backdrop of the emergence of a newly identified variant of the SARS-CoV-2 virus in the UK, South Africa and some other parts of the world.

INSACOG is a consortium of 10 labs namely DBT-NIBMG Kalyani, DBT-ILS Bhubaneswar, ICMR-NIV Pune, DBT-NCCS Pune, CSIR-CCMB Hyderabad, DBT-CDFD Hyderabad, DBT-InSTEM/ NCBS Bengaluru, NIMHANS Bengaluru, CSIR-IGIB Delhi, and NCDC Delhi, formed with an overall aim to monitor the genomic variations in the SARS-CoV-2 on a regular basis through a multi-laboratory network.

The Centre-run National Centre for Disease Control is the agency of the consortium.

Sujeet Kumar Singh, Director, NCDC also confirmed with IANS that over 24,000 mutations in the virus have been recorded in India. “We have found these mutations in over 6,000 variants and submitted it to an international consortium which collects the data to predict and analyse trends of virus spread in geographical locations,” he said.

One probability being mostly explored since the rise in daily infections of the Covid-19 is the presence of an undetected or multiple strains of novel coronavirus which could be attributing to the gradual spike the country is witnessing for the last one week. While Kerala and Maharashtra continue to report a surge in cases there, a trend of rise in infections in Punjab, Chhattisgarh and Madhya Pradesh is being watched.

However, Singh added that no evidence so far suggests that the mutations have driven the effective transmission in the country. “Till now, no correlation has been established between the variants and the rise in the number of cases reported in a few states. It is still under investigation,” he said.

“More than 2 lakh mutations in the virus have been recorded globally. But did all the mutations incite a rise in cases? The mutations are a natural process of evolution in a pathogen. It is relevant only if it induces a change in the trend of disease spread,” Singh explained.

Recently, Council for Scientific and Industrial Research — Centre for Cellular and Molecular Biology, which is also one of the INSACOG labs, had released a study stating that N440K, a new Covid-19 variant is spreading a lot more in the southern states.

The scientists presented their findings of analysis of over 5,000 coronavirus variants and how they have evolved over the course of the pandemic. The paper documents the spike mutation landscape of SARS-CoV-2, showcasing the ones that have emerged with high prevalence in the country and abroad, the release said.

“The take home of this comprehensive work is that due to the natural process of mutation, variants will keep emerging,” the study concluded.


Maharashtra police bust illegal arms factory of Maoists in Gadchiroli




In a significant achievement, the commandos of Gadchiroli Police bust an illegal arms manufacturing factory deep in the forests of Aheri, Home Minister Anil Deshmukh said on Friday.

A 70-strong force of commandoes battled Maoists’ gunfire as they charged into “the remote and virtually inaccessible core areas” of the rebels for over 48 hours before notching the stunning success, Deshmukh said.

The operation was carried out under the police’s Tactical Counter Offensive Campaign to weed out the strongholds of the rebels in this Maoist-infested district.

“One commando has received bullet injury on his leg and has been rushed to the headquarters in a helicopter for treatment. His condition is stable,” Deshmukh said.

The minister congratulated the Gadchiroli Police for their courage and dedication that resulted in this big victory over the Maoists.

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Maharashtra panel moots ’10-point’ agenda to end farmers’ suicides




A farm-panel on Friday submitted a ’10-point programme’ intended to arrest the agrarian crises in Maharashtra and end the saga of farmers’ suicides in the state, a top official said here.

The Vasantrao Naik Shet Swavlamban Mission (VNSSM) President Kishore Tiwari, accorded a Minister of State status, formally submitted the 10-point charter to Chief Secretary Sitaram Kunte.

On his part, Kunte directed the Agriculture Department to initiate the necessary measures in the matter on priority, Tiwari told IANS after the meeting.

The parched Vidarbha, Marathwada and Khandesh regions of the state have been under the grip of a severe agro-crisis since the past nearly 25 years, forcing thousands of woeful farmers to end their lives and the trend continues even now.

“Despite measures, relief packages or loan-waivers worth over Rs five-lakh crore given by successive governments, the core issues remain untouched and need to be addressed on top priority to bring succour to the peasantry,” Tiwari told Kunte.

The 10-point programme includes: state to address input cost reduction and output cost intervention; shifting to crop pattern as per demand of the local and global market; to stop frequent failure of the credit-cycle in new farm credit policy; secondary livelihood management income activity; core issues of irrigation, water conservation, soil health revival; proper risk management with effective crop insurance and climate change issue.

Besides, Tiwari called for proper incentive for agroforestry, promotion of pulses and oilseed crops; professional quality health and education rural infrastructure; food security; and improvement in the quality of local governance.

The VNSSM chief contended that the rural agrarian distress also remained unresolved owing to a hostile administration, non-cooperation of the bankers, ill-intended interventions and complex issues pertaining to social-engineering, besides the economic crises in the country, especially in the past seven years.

Tiwari assured Kunte that the VNSSM has a detailed ready plan to tackle all these issues which can eliminate ‘directionless relief or loan waivers packages’ and end the cycle of farmers suicides on a permanent basis.

In the past 25 years or so, Tiwari said an estimated 35,000-plus farmers, including several women, have resorted to the extreme step of suicide as they could not bear the burden of pending loans, leaving behind a large number of destitute widows and orphans across the state.

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22-year-old woman hangs herself, two children




A 22-year-old woman committed suicide by hanging herself along with her two children following an argument with her husband in Subhash Place area of Delhi, the police said.

According to the police, on Thursday the woman had sought permission for going to her native place Madhubani in Bihar for the Mundan ceremony of their child. But this turned into an argument. Thereafter, the husband left for work. After he left the woman hanged herself along with the two children.

“The husband of the woman was on his job. After coming back from work he saw them hanging from the window. The door of the room was closed from inside and he broke it open with the help of neighbours,” said Usha Rangnani, DCP North West.

They were married about five years ago, Rangnani said, adding that the bodies have been sent to a hospital for postmortem.

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