Contradicting the reports from Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) that swine flu hasn’t evolved since it was discovered back in 2009, MIT researchers have warned people that the seasonal disease caused by H1N1 virus might have evolved over the period that has made its impact more severe and has caused more number of deaths than in previous years.
The study claims that the recent samples collected from India suggest new mutation in the hemagglutinin protein that makes the virus more infectious as well as more virulent. The hemagglutinin protein attaches itself to glycan receptors, easily found on the surface of respiratory cells and strength of the attachment determines the effect of virus on those cells. Scientists said that they have recorded variations in the strength of bindings from the strains collected from past two years that gives insight to mutation.
“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. However, those two strains yielded enough information to warrant concern,” S.K. Sharma, Director, Directorate of Health Services (DHS), said.
However, researchers stated that more study is required to confirm the findings, but the initial study has increased the woes of the government that has already been struggling to control the outbreak in the country. According to the latest updated the deadly H1N1 virus has claimed 1,537 lives and has infected 27,234 peoples. Rajasthan and Gujarat are the worst affected states with more than 20000 infections collectively.
The same vaccine is recommended by WHO against H1N1 since 2010. However, some researchers believe that the current Indian strain might differ from the vaccine strain and have started discussions on updating the vaccine.
Meanwhile, Arun Panda, additional secretary, health, said that ICMR hasn’t found any mutated strain till date, however, taking the study seriously the ICMR will conduct its own test to discover any such mutation.