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India and US researchers clash over swine flu strain mutation

India and US researchers clash over swine flu strain mutation
India has disputed US scientists’ findings that the deadly swine flu virus has acquired more virulent mutations in the South Asian country and rejected their concerns over how authorities are monitoring an outbreak of the disease.

H1N1 influenza, also known as swine flu, has killed more than 1,500 people in India this year, compared with 218 in 2014. India says the strain is the same as the one that killed an estimated 284,000 people in the global pandemic of 2009-10. Researchers from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) said in an article on Wednesday that the genetic information of two Indian strains, deposited in public databases in the past two years, revealed new mutations that could make the virus more deadly.

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But India’s National Institute of Virology said in a statement late on Thursday that the findings were “incorrect”.

“We found that the strain analysed in the said publication and the sequence data of the original H1N1
virus ... did not show any of these mutations,” the institute said.

The government agency also said the strain analysed by the US scientists had no relevance to the current outbreak.

The MIT researchers called for greater surveillance to determine whether the mutations were currently present in India.
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