New Delhi: A Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) report claiming that the swine flu virus in India may have mutated and become severely infectious needs to be studied thoroughly before being accepted, Indian health experts said on Thursday.
"This is a new study. We need to go through it and research properly. It is important to know how they reached the conclusion. It will take at least one-to-two days` time to go through the study, only then I can comment on it," S.K. Sharma, director, Directorate of Health Services (DHS) told IANS.
The study by a team of Indian-origin scientists at the US university says that swine flu has killed over 1,500 people and infected more than 27,000 people in India and the virus has acquired mutations that make it more dangerous than previously circulating strains of H1N1 influenza.
The findings, reported in the scientific journal Cell Host and Microbe, contradict previous reports from Indian health officials that the strain has not changed from the version of H1N1 that emerged in 2009 and has been circulating around the world ever since.
Mutation is a permanent change of the nucleotide sequence of the genome of an organism, virus, or extra-chromosomal DNA or other genetic elements.
NK Mehra, former dean, research, at All India Institute of Medical Science (AIIMS) said it was important to study the MIT report before coming to any conclusion. "It will be too early to comment now without going through the report properly," he said.
A senior official of the health ministry also said that the issue will be discussed with the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) before coming to any conclusion.
The flu virus in India seems to have acquired mutations that could spread more readily, the scientist have warned in the study.