U.K. variant not more contagious: study
Context: According to a study by scientists at the National Institute of Virology, Pune, the UK variant (B.1.1.7) of the coronavirus did not appear to be more transmissible than the variant of the virus most common in India.
- The study was based on tests on Syrian hamsters, a commonly employed laboratory animal, and is yet to be formally peer-reviewed.
- 1.1.7, the variant of the coronavirus has mutations that enable it to spread more readily among people and was linked to a sharp spike in cases in the United Kingdom.
- Health authorities in Punjab said about 80% of the cases of recent tranche of coronavirus positive samples were of the B.1.1.7 variety.
- To establish how quickly the strain spread, NIV scientists infected two groups of nine hamsters, with one group given the B.1.1.7 and the other the dominant SARS-CoV-2 strain in India.
National Institute of Virology:
- The National Institute of Virology, Pune is an Indian virology research institute, and one of the translational science cells part of Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR).
- It was previously known as 'Virus Research Center' and was founded in collaboration with the Rockefeller Foundation.
- It has been designated as a WHO H5 reference laboratory for SE Asia region.
- The Virus Research Center (VRC), Pune came into existence in 1952 under the joint auspices of the ICMR and the Rockefeller Foundation, as a part of the global programme of investigations on the arthropod-borne group of viruses.