Bhubaneswar: A team of genomic researchers from two institutes has identified 73 novel variants of the COVID-19 strain in Odisha, its head has said.

The researchers are from CSIR-Institute of Genomics and Integrative Biology (IGIB), New Delhi and Institute of Medical Sciences and SUM Hospital, Bhubaneswar, he said.

"The research team, which carried out sequencing of 1,536 samples including 752 clinical samples, reported two lineages -- B.1.112 and B.1.99 -- for the first time in India," Dr Jayashankar Das, lead investigator and director (research) of the IMS and SUM Hospital, said on Friday.

If one gets to know the detailed character of the novel coronavirus, it will be very easy to treat patients and cure them, he said.

The research team, supported by the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR), validated the most-advanced COVID-19 sequencing technology. This could be a potential high-sensitivity assay for the detection of SARS- CoV-2 with the additional advantage of enabling genetic epidemiology of SARS-CoV-2, Das said.

With this study, India has beaten 12 organisations in 10 countries to complete the first field validation and release the data online, he said, quoting a report by sequencing tech giant Illumina.

The IMS and SUM Hospital researchers are also undertaking the sequencing and analysis of 500 viral genomes to understand the mild, moderate and critical coronavirus infection along with its transmission capabilities, he said.

Besides, the study will help understand the vulnerability of the strains, new therapeutic target and new mutation in eastern India, especially in Odisha, Das said.

The rapid emergence of COVID-19 as a pandemic, which has affected millions of people across the world, has necessitated sensitive and high-throughput approaches for the diagnosis, surveillance and determining the genetic epidemiology of SARS-CoV-2, which will help in tracking strain information as well, he said.

Asked about the difference between RT-PCR test and COVID-19 sequencing tests, Das said, "The COVID-19 sequencing reports give the entire history of the coronavirus, while the RT-PCR tests only determine whether a patient is positive or negative for the infection."

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A video where a man talking in Urdu is referring to the demolition of Babri masjid and encouraging the Muslim community to take control over the judiciary, police force, health department, and other professions by increasing Muslim representation is massively viral on social media. It has been shared with the claim that the man is the owner of the Himalaya Drug Company. 

The video has been circulated with messages advising against the use of Himalaya products.

Several users posted the video on Facebook and Twitter.

Alt News has received several fact-check requests for this video on its official mobile application.



Alt News used InVid to break down the video into several frames. We reverse searched one of the frames on Yandex and found another YouTube video featuring the same man. The video identified him in Urdu which translates to Naqi Ahmed Nadwi.

Searching for his name led us to his social media profiles. We found the same video posted on August 6, 2020, on Naqi Ahmed Nadwi’s Facebook page with an Urdu caption بابری مسجد کا انہدام اوراسکی جگہ پر رام مندر کا قیام تاریخ ہند کا ایک ایسا موڑ ہے جس کے بارے میں مسلمانوں کو سنجیدگی سے غور کرنا ہوگا! (The demolition of the Babri Masjid and the erection of the Ram Temple on its site is a turning point in the history of India which Muslims must seriously consider!)

According to his Linkedin profile, he is an administrator at Maaden, a mining company based out of Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. He has been a resident of Saudi Arabia for at least the past 15 years, though his Linkedin profile says that he completed his education in India.

The founder of Himalaya Drug Company is Mohammad Manal who passed away in 1986. The incumbent President and CEO is Philipe Haydon. The company tweeted a fact-check report debunking the video in question on September 27.

This isn’t the first time that the multinational company was targetted with misinformation on social media. Earlier in March, a false claim suggested that its founder funds terrorists.

The story was originally published in and has been posted here without any changes and alterations. The original story can be read by clicking here.