India successfully cultures UK coronavirus variant

India has successfully cultured the new ‘more infectious’ coronavirus strain, which had originated in United Kingdom, the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) said on Saturday.

The British Government had recently announced that the newly identified strain of the virus found in their population is up to 70 per cent more transmissible, following which India sprung into action.

The country put in place a pro-active and preventive strategy to detect and contain the variant. So far, the new variant has been detected in 29 UK returnees through genome sequencing.

“India successfully cultures the new viral strain on the horizon (UK variant of SARS-COV-2). UK-variant of the virus, with all signature changes, is now successfully isolated and cultured at the National Institute of Virology from the clinical specimens collected from UK-returnees,” the apex research council said.

Notably, no country has yet reported successful isolation and culture of the UK-variant of SARS-CoV-2. In India, Vero cell lines were used by the scientists of ICMR-NIV to culture the UK-variant of the virus.

The new UK Variant has already been reported by Denmark, Netherlands, Australia, Italy, Sweden, France, Spain, Switzerland, Germany, Canada, Japan, Lebanon and Singapore.

From November 25 to December 23 midnight, about 33,000 passengers had disembarked at various Indian airports from UK. All these passengers are being tracked and subjected by States and UTs to RT-PCR tests to track down the mutant coronavirus strain.