Indian Researchers first to achieve isolation & culture of the New UK- variant of SARS-CoV-2-B.1.1.7

Dr. Reepa Agrawal
05 Jan, 2021

The Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) tweeted on 2nd January 2021 regarding isolation and culture of the new UK-variant of SARS-COV-2 achieved by Indian researchers in National Institute of Virology (NIV), Pune, India. This is a big step forward which will help in further understanding the new variant.

The new variant of SARS-CoV-2 -B.1.1.7 is creating a havoc currently as its 70% more transmissible. Although it was first found in UK in September, it is spreading rapidly and at present many countries including India, Sweden, France, Italy, Germany, Ireland, Netherlands, Norway, Spain, Australia, China, Japan, Turkey, Vietnam, Canada, U.S, etc have reported cases. International travel restrictions have been imposed currently in many countries to control the spread of virus. It is the first time since the detection of the UK-variant that now its possible to culture it.

New variant of SARS-Cov-2 -B.1.1.7 has mutations in spike protein. Till now there is no clear evidence regarding its infectivity, neither regarding its prevention by the current vaccines. However, now with the breakthrough of isolating and culturing the variant, there is hope about getting the answers soon. India isolated the variant from UK returnees, so far there are 29 new variant cases in India. The B.1.1.7 strain was cultured using vero cell lines according to ICMR. With isolation and culture of strains, research can be conducted on ability of antiviral treatment to be effective against the particular strain, also regarding its pathogenesis, vaccine effectiveness, and virus stability.

Hopefully, along with the vaccines, this milestone of culturing the UK-strain will strengthen our defense against Covid-19.

References: ICMR,CDC, Covid-19 Genomics Consortium
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