Experts Suspect Corona Virus Mutation At Play In Gujarat
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Coronavirus has Gujarat in its vicious grip once again. In 24 hours ending 5 pm on March 23, the state added 1,730 cases, record high daily cases reported in the pandemic yet taking the total to 2.9 lakh. In a week, the state has registered an alarming rise of 81% in cases with addition of total 10,328. In the preceding week, 5,529 cases were recorded.

City-based experts say there is reason to suspect a mutation might be at play in Ahmedabad which recorded 502 cases in a day, the highest for any city in the state during the pandemic – and state at large. Dr Tushar Patel, a city-based pulmonologist and member of the state task force on Covid-19, said that the surge could only be understood in terms of mutation.

“If we compare the profile of the patients in the past fortnight with those in the post-Diwali period, the severity and mortality is low. But the spread is much higher – something that is being observed in other parts of the country and elsewhere in the world,” he said. City-based pathologists are pointing at missing S-gene from several of the RT-PCR tests.

Explaining its importance and meaning, Dr Urvesh Shah, professor of pathology at GCS Medical College, said that the kit tests the sample based on S, N and E genes along with RdRp gene. “The kits detect the presence of two, three or all four genes based on its sensitivity. “We can interpret the result as mutation on the S gene – as the kits are designed based on the earlier variant.”

“Most of the positive cases are showing ‘S’ gene negative. This signifies the possibility of mutation in the `S’ gene in the new strain,” said Dr Bhavini Shah, consultant histopathologist and infection prevention and control specialist. Dr DG Patel, a city-based pathologist, agreed with the theory. He added that neutrophil-lymphocyte ratio (NLR) along with C-reactive protein (CRP) used to be high in the Covid-19 positive patients. “The general range was 100-150. But for the past few days, we don’t see it beyond 50-60. Thus, we can say that the severity is less,” he said.

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