Pune: The researchers at the National Institute of Virology in Pune have detected a new variant – B.188.8.131.52 – in India through genome sequencing. The samples were taken from the nasal and throat swabs of international travelers from Brazil and the UK.
Experts opine that this variant is similar to the Delta variant which was the cause of the second wave in India, and could be more dangerous than the Alpha variant.
The study was performed in Vero CCL81 cells and genomic characterization by next-generation sequencing. According to the study, the pathogenicity of the isolate was assessed in the Syrian hamster model and compared with B.1 variant.
“Pathogenicity of the isolate was demonstrated in Syrian hamster model and in comparison, with B.1 variant was found more pathogenic. The findings of increased disease severity and neutralization reduction is of great concern and point towards the need for screening the vaccines for efficacy,” stated the findings.
The sera from B.184.108.40.206 infected hamsters efficiently neutralized the D614G variant virus whereas 6-fold reduction in the neutralization was seen in case of D614G variant infected hamsters’ sera with the B.220.127.116.11 variant. The B.18.104.22.168 variant induced body weight loss, viral replication in the respiratory tract, lung lesions, and caused severe lung pathology in infected Syrian hamster model in comparison, with B.1 variant infected hamsters.
The study concluded, “The B.22.214.171.124 variant which was found more pathogenic in hamsters producing severe pneumonia in comparison with B.1 lineage variant. The B.1 variant infected hamster sera showed reduced neutralization against B.126.96.36.199. The study points towards the necessity of genomic surveillance and characterization of the SARS-CoV-2 variants to understand its pathogenicity and immune escape potential for preparedness.”