New Delhi: India became the first country in the world to successfully isolate and culture the new, mutated strain of the novel coronavirus, the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) said in a tweet on Saturday (January 2, 2021).
“UK-variant of the virus, with all signature changes, is now successfully isolated and cultured at the National Institute of Virology (NIV) from the clinical specimens collected from UK-returnees,” the apex medical body shared on microblogging site Twitter.
The Sars-CoV-2, the virus that causes the coronavirus disease (Covid-19) was being tracked through the countrywide network of ICMR-laboratories since the epidemic began in India. Vero cell lines were used by the scientists of ICMR-NIV to culture the UK-variant of the virus, it added.
India successfully cultures the new viral strain on the horizon (UK-variant of SARS-CoV-2). #ICMRFIGHTSCOVID19 #IndiaFightsCOVID19 #CoronaUpdatesInIndia #COVID19 #Unite2FightCorona @MoHFW_INDIA @PIB_India @DrHVoffice @drharshvardhan @AshwiniKChoubey @icmr_niv pic.twitter.com/vaCMQMSHOJ
— ICMR (@ICMRDELHI) January 2, 2021
According to ICMR, no other country has managed to successfully isolate and culture the UK variant.
India has so far reported 29 cases of the new UK COVID strain which has been spreading rapidly around Britain and other countries. Apart from India, it has been reported from Denmark, Netherlands, Australia, Italy, Sweden, France, Spain, Switzerland, Germany, Canada, Japan, Lebanon and Singapore.
The new variant genome of Sars-CoV-2 – B.1.1.7, which is much more infectious and has prompted comprehensive contact tracing for co-travellers, family members and others of those who have travelled to the UK in the last 38 days.
Meanwhile, as a precautionary measure, the aviation ministry has partially restricted the operations of flights between India and the UK.
Flights from India to the UK can commence from January 6, while operations from the UK to India will begin on January 8. The ministry has also issued a set of guidelines for passengers from the UK. All passengers will have to submit a self-declaration form on the online portal of Delhi Airport (www.newdelhiairport.in) and need to carry a negative report of the RT-PCR test conducted within 72 hours prior to undertaking the journey.