Scientists say govt was aware about new Covid virus, surge in cases

New Delhi: The scientific community has stated that they had hinted to the Central government about the new variants of Covid-19 virus and also an increase in the cases in May this year. The community, however, did not make any prediction due to lack of data analysis.

Dr. M. Vidyasagar, who is a professor at IIT (Hyderabad), stated that by March 13 this year Covid cases were showing an upward trend but as they did not have requisite data available so they did not make any prediction.

Vidyasagar further stated that after they hinted, the government said the authorities made long- and medium-term plans to short-term plans. Based on the events of the past few weeks, however, those plans seem to have been inadequate, said Vidyasagar citing the current crisis of oxygen supply across the country.

The IIT Kanpur study in April also stated that the daily cases in the second wave will increase by May 8. The Kanpur study also predicted a peak of 38 to 44 lakh active cases between May 14 and May 18.

The scientists also stated in March that they had alerted the government about the new and more contagious variant of the coronavirus — SARS-CoV-2 Genetics Consortium, or INSACOG.

The institution was set up by the government in December last year, specifically to detect genomic variants of the coronavirus. The institution examined 10 national laboratories across the country studying virus variants.

The institution first detected B.1.617 as early as February. Ajay Parida, director of the state-run Institute of Life Sciences and a member of INSACOG, reportedly stated that they first detected B.1.617 in February and alerted the government.

The Union Health Ministry’s National Centre for Disease Control received the finding in March.

The finding reportedly stated that the mutations, called E484Q and L452R, were of high concern. It stated E484Q mutant viruses escaping highly neutralising antibodies in cultures, and L452R mutation was responsible for both increased transmissibility and immune escape.

The mutated versions of the virus could more easily enter a human cell and counter a person’s immune response to it, according to the findings.

The ministry put the findings in public domain in March stating that ‘more problematic variants required following measures already underway’.