New Delhi: The government Tuesday made it clear that the swine flu virus, which has killed more than 1,700 people in the country, has undergone no mutation but would "continue" to circulate as a seasonal phenomenon.
Quoting a World Health Organisation (WHO) report, Health Minister JP Nadda told Rajya Sabha during Question Hour that the pandemic influenza virus would "continue to circulate" as the seasonal influenza virus, causing sporadic cases and outbreaks of various intensities.
A recent study released by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) said that the virus may have acquired mutations that make it "more severe and infectious" than previously circulating H1N1 strains.
"No mutation is taking place... The virus has not mutated at this point of time," the minister said, adding that the National Institute of Virology (NIV) in Pune was constantly keeping a watch on the virus.
NIV had disputed the claim by MIT and said that the strain mentioned in the publication has "no relevance" to the 2015 outbreak.
NIV, which functions under the government's Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR), had said that the strain analysed in the publication and the data of the original H1N1 virus available with it "did not" show any of the mutations.
The scientists behind the study -- Ram Sasisekharan, the Alfred H Caspary Professor of Biological Engineering at MIT, and Kannan Tharakaraman, a research scientist in the Department of Biological Engineering at the institute, have stood by their research and called the findings "accurate" even though the Indian government has disputed their claim.
The Union Health Ministry has said that as on March 16, 1,767 people have died of swine flu while the number of affected persons stands at 30,366.
Nadda said that the Centre has been assisting the affected states and Union Territories by providing logistic support for drugs, masks, personal protective equipment and vaccines. The minister, meanwhile, also said that vaccination for the flu was not recommended by experts.