“UK-variant of the virus, with all signature changes, is now successfully isolated and cultured at National Institute of Virology (NIV) from the clinical specimens collected from UK-returnees,” ICMR said.
Vero-cell lines were used by the scientists of ICMR-NIV to culture the UK-variant of the virus, it added.
Isolation of the virus is the first step towards expediting the development of drugs, vaccines, and rapid diagnostic kits in the country.
SARS-CoV-2, the virus causing Covid-19, was being tracked through a countrywide network of ICMR laboratories since the early days of the pandemic in India.
India has reported at least 29 cases of the new coronavirus variants. While the new variant has higher transmissibility, it has prompted comprehensive contact-tracing for co-travellers, family members, and others of those who have travelled to the UK in the last 38 days.
From November 25 to December 23, 2020, at midnight, about 33,000 passengers disembarked at various Indian airports from the UK. All these passengers are being tracked and subjected by states to RT-PCR tests to detect Covid-19.
Apart from India, the presence of the new strain of the mutant virus has already been reported by Denmark, Netherlands, Australia, Italy, Sweden, France, Spain, Switzerland, Germany, Canada, Japan, Lebanon and Singapore.