RTPCR test failing to detect new variants of Coronavirus

Maha strain attacking even younger people

Govind Sharma
JAMMU, Apr 20: RTPCR based COVID-19 test is failing to detect the new variants of Coronavirus, particularly the Maharashtra variant which is a dangerous trend as a large number of people coming in Government Medical College and Hospital (GMCH), Jammu with COVID related symptoms are turning negative in RTPCR based test while on chest CT Scan, they are turning out to be positive.
On the conditions of anonymity, several doctors of GMCH Jammu told Excelsior that the Wuhan virus which was active last year has changed its shape and after mutation it has converted into several variants viz. UK strain, South Africa strain, Brazil strain and the most dangerous Maharashtra strain (B1617), which is playing havoc all over India including Jammu and Kashmir.
They said this Maharashtra strain of Coronavirus is more dangerous than Wuhan virus. The transmission of the Wuhan virus was not as fast as is of this new strain, they claimed, adding, one person infected with this strain infects 60-70 percent people who come in his contact while in case of Wuhan virus, one person was infecting 40-50 percent of his contacts.
“The dangerous trend of the Maharashtra strain of the Coronavirus can be gauzed from the fact that even RTPCR based tests are failing to detect it,” the doctors said, adding, now-a-days such cases are on rise in Jammu and Kashmir and many such cases have been reported in GMCH Jammu. They said people are coming with all COVID like symptoms but their RTPCR reports are turning out to be negative and only on conducting CT Scan of their chest, they are found infected with the virus.
They said, what is more concerning is, that this variant is attacking everybody from younger to older unlike the Wuhan virus which was attacking mostly the weaker and older persons. They further informed that the Reproductive Number of a controlled virus is less than one but now, the Reproductive Number of the Coronavirus is nearing two, which is considered as dangerous.
The concerned doctors said while America has acknowledged that due to change in variant of Coronavirus, RTPCR based tests are failing to detect the new strains, Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) is yet to confirm it. They said Centre for Cellular & Molecular Biology (CCMB) in India is doing a study on it and its report is expected to come within a week.
“Our testing kits were made to detect the Wuhan virus but now that has changed its shape and character entirely and that may be the reason that even RTPCR tests are unable to detect the new strain,” they apprehended and laid stress on introducing new testing kits which can detect the new Maharashtra strain of the Coronavirus.
Expressing regret over the poor health infrastructure even after one year of the COVID Pandemic, they said when they see preparations to cater to the rush of COVID patients, it is very grim. “In last over two weeks, the COVID cases have witnessed sharp rise and almost half of our beds earmarked for the COVID patients have been occupied in GMCH Jammu,” they added.