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Banaras Hindu University (BHU), Varanasi and the CSIR-Centre for Cellular and Molecular Biology (CCMB), Hyderabad have collaboratively sequenced genomes of coronavirus variants in Varanasi and adjoining areas. Their study reports at least seven major strains of coronavirus circulating in these regions. The Multidisciplinary Research Unit headed at BHU collected samples from Varanasi and areas around the city, mostly in April 2021. The team at CCMB sequenced these samples and found out that there were at least seven major variants circulating in the region. 130 samples were sequenced in this study.

“Among the Variants of Concern (VoC), the most predominant variant we found in our study was B.1.617. This variant was also reported to be one of the major drivers of the second COVID-19 wave in India”, said Prof Singh, who heads the Multidisciplinary Research Unit at BHU.

“Just as in most of India, the B.1.617.2 variant (aka Delta variant) was the most common one in the samples we studied. They were found among 36% of the total samples. Other VoCs such as the B.1.351, detected in South Africa for the first time, was also found in this area”, said Dr Rakesh Mishra, Advisor, CCMB. “This study confirms yet again that the Delta variant is the most widespread coronavirus variant in the country right now. But at the same time, it is imperative for us to keep an eye on the other emerging variants in the country to prevent another unprecedented surge of cases”, he adds.