Undetected variants, Cryptic Lineages: Probe Raises New Covid Mystery

Photo: Strait Times

Since the onset of the coronavirus pandemic, researchers have looked at sewage and wastewater for clues related to how the Covid-19 virus behaves and how it may mutate, to understand it better.

A group of researchers in New York who were running tests in the city’s wastewater found that there may have been chances of a new variant of Covid-19 going unreported, according to a report by the New York Times.

The report highlighted that the researchers found a series of never-seen mutations that were also not reported or detected in human beings.

The researchers have no idea where these undetected variants came from or whether they possess the ability to take over the dominant strains of Covid-19. Scientists are divided as to where these mutations are coming from.

The report, originally published in Nature Communications, highlights that a section feels that the virus is coming from people whose infections were not captured by sequencing while another section believes the lineage maybe come from virus-infected animals, with New York City’s rats being the main suspect.

The researchers of the New York study- Monica Trujillo, a microbiologist at Queensborough Community College, John Dennehy, a virologist at Queens College, Marc Johnson, a virologist at the University of Missouri; Davida Smyth, a microbiologist at Texas A&M University and others-have said that they have not fully understood what was it that they have sequenced.


Researchers in Canada said that they found the Omicron variant in Nova Scotia providence’s wastewater even before the strain was reported from South Africa, according to a report by Canadian news agency National Post.

Graham Gagnon, professor, and director of the Centre for Water Resource Studies told the news agency that his team of researchers detected Omicron, retrospectively, in Nova Scotia wastewater in mid-November.

Similar to the researchers in New York, Gagnon’s team had been investigating wastewater from Nova Scotia’s four main treatment plants since December 2020.

Researchers who probe Covid presence in wastewater highlight that wastewater often provides important clues related to how the virus is evolving, especially when testing systems face duress due to the high number of cases.


Publish : 2022-02-04 17:30:00

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