The Viral Bulletin

Times have become grim again. It feels like we are stuck in a never-ending loop. Most of us are slightly out of the practice of our ‘Work From Home’ routine, and going back to a restricted routine would be similar to travelling back to square one.
Even though the vaccine drive had started to become a huge success in India, the month of March brought bad news with it. With rising covid-positive cases, night-time curfews and stringent directives have become mandatory. Condition in India is worsening every day; 1,33,58,805 active cases have been reported in India as of today, April 11, 2021, whereas 10,15,95,147 people have been vaccinated nationwide (according to Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, Govt. of India).

The “double mutant” variant of the coronavirus has been recently detected in India. The second wave in India might be a nightmare turned into reality. INSACOG, The Indian SARS-CoV-2 Consortium on Genomics, is currently carrying out the genomic sequencing on the newly reported positive cases that have the double mutant variant. INSACOG will be mapping the entire genetic code of the virus to reveal more information about the double mutant variant. The double mutant variant might be concerning if it is easily transmissible or fatal. This new variant of concern has two mutations – E484Q and L452R. We have discussed how the virus works
previously. A mutation brings in a change in the genetic sequence. This double mutant variant has two mutations in the spike protein of the virus. The spike protein allows the coronavirus to attach to cells. These mutations make the virus inherently better at spreading the infection and help the virus to escape neutralizing bodies. This essentially means that the virus becomes more resistant to our immune system. Unfortunately, researchers are not yet sure if this variant will stand up against the current concoction of the vaccines that are available for everyone.

Coronavirus has been the talk of the town for over a year now. It all (supposedly) started with a bat, a man and his soup. This virus has caused massive destruction worldwide, and we have still not recovered from it. If it all started with an animal involved in the process, don’t you think we should probably go back to one of those main carriers and find a cure for them as well? Russia used the same line of logic and rolled out the first-ever vaccine for animals against the Covid-19 disease. Carnivac-CoV has been developed by a unit of Rosselkhoznador (Federal Service for Veterinary and Phytosanitary Surveillance). The Carnivac-CoV has positively generated antibodies in dogs, cats and
minks. The mass production of this vaccine might begin this month. The regulator, Rosselkhoznador, said, “the vaccine would be able to protect vulnerable species and thwart viral mutations.” Russia has recorded 2 Covid-19 positive cases in animals. Both of them were found in cats.

Last year, 17 million minks were culled from Danish farms after they contracted the virus from humans, and later, humans contracted the mutated strain of the virus from minks. Fur farms in Russia are planning to buy the Carnivac-CoV to mitigate this issue. If the virus hits the fur farms in Russia, the global market might end up taking yet another hit. Russian fur farms account for around 3% of the global market. With the hopes to control the spread of the virus in animals, Russia’s Carnivac-CoV will be available in the markets soon.

Russia’s “Sputnik V” vaccine has also made it to the headlines as several countries including India shall be using it to vaccinate their citizens. We have covered the mechanism behind Sputnik V in “The Viral Bulletin” of the second episode of Season 1.

As a community and as responsible civilians, we must maintain a code of conduct and try to limit our activities to a bare minimum. Wearing a mask and carrying a sanitiser wherever you go has become the new normal. Maintaining basic hygiene and conscientious behaviour will help us all in the long run. We urge you to get vaccinated and ask your family members to do the same. Even though it is a dismal period, we have to remember that we are in this together.

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Written by:

 

Urja Kuber

Co-founder and Director of Website development and Logistics

 

Illustration by:

 

Anushree Krishnamurthy

Co-founder and Director of Website development and Logistics

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