At a time when India is still grappling with the novel coronavirus pandemic that started in China’s Wuhan, scientists have warned of another virus from China that has the potential to spread diseases in India.
Scientists at the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) have found that the ‘cat que virus’ (CQV), which has infected several in China, may cause diseases such as febrile illnesses, meningitis, and paediatric encephalitis in India too, reported Livemint.
The CQV is an arthropod-borne viruses or arboviruses. China and Vietnam have reported the presence of CQV inside culex mosquitoes and pigs.
According to the ICMR study, data has revealed that Indian mosquitoes, namely, aegypti, Cx. Quinquefasciatus, and Cx. Tritaeniorhynchus, are susceptible to the CQV. Swines are the primary mammalian host of the CQV.
Scientists at the National Institute of Virology (NIV) in Pune have found the presence of the antibodies for the CQV in two out of 883 human serum samples that were collected across India. This means that those two people had contracted the infection at some point in time; this has raised fear of the CQV spread in the country.
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A vaccine works by mimicking a natural infection. A vaccine not only induces immune response to protect people from any future COVID-19 infection, but also helps quickly build herd immunity to put an end to the pandemic. Herd immunity occurs when a sufficient percentage of a population becomes immune to a disease, making the spread of disease from person to person unlikely. The good news is that SARS-CoV-2 virus has been fairly stable, which increases the viability of a vaccine.
There are broadly four types of vaccine — one, a vaccine based on the whole virus (this could be either inactivated, or an attenuated [weakened] virus vaccine); two, a non-replicating viral vector vaccine that uses a benign virus as vector that carries the antigen of SARS-CoV; three, nucleic-acid vaccines that have genetic material like DNA and RNA of antigens like spike protein given to a person, helping human cells decode genetic material and produce the vaccine; and four, protein subunit vaccine wherein the recombinant proteins of SARS-COV-2 along with an adjuvant (booster) is given as a vaccine.
Vaccine development is a long, complex process. Unlike drugs that are given to people with a diseased, vaccines are given to healthy people and also vulnerable sections such as children, pregnant women and the elderly. So rigorous tests are compulsory. History says that the fastest time it took to develop a vaccine is five years, but it usually takes double or sometimes triple that time.
The two samples where CQV anti-bodies were found were from Karnataka; one was from 2014, the other from 2017.
However, the virus was not found in the samples – both humans and animals.ICMR said: “Anti-CQV IgG antibody positivity in human serum samples tested and the replication capability of CQV in mosquitoes indicated a possible disease-causing potential of CQV in Indian scenario. Screening of more human and swine serum samples using these assays is required as a proactive measure for understanding the prevalence of this neglected tropical virus.”