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Undetected Variants, Cryptic Lineages: Wastewater Probe Raises New Covid Mystery

By: News Desk

News18.com

Last Updated: February 04, 2022, 15:43 IST

Research into wastewater often provides researchers with unseful insights regarding the evolution of the virus (Image: Unsplash/ Marco Bicca)

Research into wastewater often provides researchers with unseful insights regarding the evolution of the virus (Image: Unsplash/ Marco Bicca)

Researchers in New York suspect that a they may have found a variant, first seen in wastewater, which went undetected as it was not reported in humans

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, in order 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 New York Times. The report highlighted that the researchers found a series of never seen before mutations which 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 the 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 lineages may be coming from virus-infected animals, with New York City’s rats being the main suspect.

The researchers call these lineages cryptic lineages.

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.

Omicron In Canadian Wastewater Before Initial Detection

Researchers in Canada said that they found the Omicron variant in Nova Scotia province’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. 

Like 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 clue related to how the virus is evolving, especially when testing systems face duress due to high number of cases. 

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first published:February 04, 2022, 15:43 IST
last updated:February 04, 2022, 15:43 IST
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