Gujarat COVID-19 cases cross 3.5k, L-type strain blamed for rise

Ahmedabad: Gujarat has turned out to become a hotbed of the coronavirus with a death rate of 4.71 percent for patients in Ahmedabad, against the country’s death rate which stands at 3.1 percent. It also has the slowest rate of recovery at 7.1 percent. Currently, the state of Gujarat has witnessed 162 deaths and has had 3,548 positive cases of Covid-19.

COVID-19: Death rate higher in Gujarat than in Mumbai

The death rate due to Covid-19 in Gujarat is higher than those in Mumbai and Delhi which have a death rate of 3.77 percent and 1.85 percent respectively.

Most of Gujarat’s cases are concentrated in the districts of Ahmedabad, Surat and Vadodara, with Ahmedabad recording 65 percent of the state’s total cases. Vadodara and Surat have recorded 16 percent and 8 percent of the cases respectively.

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Ahmedabad, the largest cluster, also accounts for 67.5 percent of Gujarat’s deaths, with the city’s death rate being higher than that of the state.

L-type strain to be blamed?

The reason for this, scientists at the Gujarat Biotechnology Research Centre (GBRC) believe is the L-type strain of the novel coronavirus, which is dominant in places with high mortality rate abroad. It had recently succeeded in decoding the entire genome sequence of the novel coronavirus and identified its three new mutations.

Weather.com reported that a study in China revealed that there are two-main types of the coronavirus in circulation, which are causing worldwide infections – the L-type strain and the S-type strain.

As the transmission spread to other places, S type coronavirus became dominant. The study found that L type has a higher transmission rate as it replicates faster in human populations, making it a more progressive strain. These two types of strains have a genetic difference of about 4%.

The L-type strain was later found to be more prevalent in places where the mortality rate was very high, like Italy (26,644 deaths), Spain (23,521 deaths) and New York (17,280 deaths).

Director of GBRC, CG Joshi told the Economic Times, “Analysis done by scientists abroad has shown that the L-type strain has been dominant where more mortality is reported among coronavirus patients. This strain was found to be more prevalent in Wuhan. Variation in coronavirus is in terms of number and percentage of mutations. As per the analysis, the L-type strain is dominant where more mortality is reported. Scientists have earlier found that this strain has caused more deaths.”

The Indian Express had reported Atul Patel, an infectious disease specialist at the Sterling Hospital, as saying that the mortality rate was low in Kerala because most of the patients came from Dubai which had the milder S-type strain. He had said, “L is the original Wuhan strain which is more pathogenic and leads to more severe disease and early death. After Wuhan, there was spontaneous mutation of the L strain, which converted to S strain, which is milder, less pathogenic.”

However, The Print reported Soumya Swaminathan, Chief Scientist at the World Health Organization, saying that there is no proof so far that “strains have anything to do with virulence”.

“Some clades are more prevalent in certain geographical regions than in others. But none of these seems to have any differences in clinical outcome, mortality, virulence, or transmissibility. No evidence that strains have anything to do with virulence or clinical severity. So far,” she told The Print.

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