New Delhi: Samples from COVID-19 patients in India will be collected to study whether the novel coronavirus strain in India has undergone mutation while spreading within the country over the last two months, the Indian Council of Medical Research said. The study would indicate whether the virus strain has become more virulent and increased transmission capability. Also, determining whether or not the SARS-CoV2 strain has changed form will help in ensuring the effectiveness of a potential vaccine, the ICMR has said. Also Read - Coronavirus in Noida: 27 Fresh Cases Reported in a Day, Total Active Cases Now 209; 4-Year-Old Recovers

However, the study can begin once the lockdown is lifted since currently there are difficulties involved in the transportation of samples from different states and Union Territories, scientists said. Also Read - COVID-19: Six-fold Jump in Cases, Five-fold Surge in Fatalities After a Month: Is Worst Yet to Come For India?

As per Global Initiative on Sharing All Influenza Data (GISAID), so far the maximum difference in the novel coronavirus strain in India has been found to be between 0.2 to 0.9 per cent as compared to the strains in other countries, a scientist said. Also Read - J&K Admin Asks Staff to Attend Work From Today, Order Doesn't Go Down Well With Lower-rung Employees

There are chances that people arriving in India from different countries are bringing various strains of the virus.

Three strains of the virus have been traced in India so far. One was from Wuhan, and the other two from Italy and Iran. The sequence of the coronavirus strain from Iran was similar to that of China.

“It will take some time for us to know the predominant quasi-species of the novel coronavirus in the country. But mutations are not likely to make potential vaccines ineffective, as all sub-types of the virus have the same enzymes. Also, it has been in India for three months and it does not mutate very fast,” Head of Epidemiology and Communicable Diseases at ICMR Dr Raman R Gangakhedkar had said earlier.

Six Indian companies are working on a vaccine for COVID-19, joining the global race to find a preventive for the deadly infection spreading rapidly across the world.

Nearly 70 ‘vaccine candidates’ are being tested and at least three have moved to the human clinical trial stage, but a vaccine for the novel coronavirus is unlikely to be ready for mass use before 2021.

(With PTI Inputs)