Hyderabad: The CSIR-Centre for Cellular and Molecular Biology (CCMB), Hyderabad, and Banaras Hindu University (BHU), Varanasi, have collaboratively sequenced genomes of coronavirus variants in Varanasi and adjoining areas. Their study reports at least seven major strains of coronavirus circulating in these regions while around 36 per cent of the variants was the B.1.617.2 variant (Delta variant), the most common one in the samples.

The multidisciplinary research unit of BHU collected samples from Varanasi and areas around the city in April 2021. The team at CCMB sequenced these samples and found that there were at least seven major variants circulating in the region. The team sequenced 130 samples for the study.

"Among the variants of concern (VoC), the most predominant variant we found in our study was B.1.617. This variant was also reported to be one of the major drivers of the second COVID-19 wave in India," said Prof. Singh, who heads the multidisciplinary research unit at BHU.

Dr. Rakesh Mishra, advisor, CCMB, said that like most of India, the Delta variant was the most common one in the samples they studied. "They were found among 36% of the total samples. Other VoCs such as the B.1.351, detected in South Africa for the first time, were also found in this area," he added.

"This study confirms yet again that the Delta variant is the most widespread coronavirus variant in the country right now. But at the same time, it is imperative for us to keep an eye on the other emerging variants in the country to prevent another unprecedented surge of cases", he said.

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