The finding bears significance in the backdrop of the fact that scientists at BSIP have found traces of coronavirus in water of river Gomti in the state capital.
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“The joint team of BHU and BSIP was investigating the question of presence of coronavirus in Ganga as many of the experts have shown contrasting views when several human bodies were found floating in the river Ganga during May 2021 and pictures of several of unburned corpses floating in this mighty river had shaken up the country”, said Prof Gyaneshwar Chaubey of the department of Zoology, BHU.
The expert in the field of genetics further informed, “To investigate any trace of coronavirus in the Ganga, the team had collected two samples every week, in a row of seven weeks, from Varanasi city, starting from May 15 to July 3”. The sample collecting point was same at every collection and the process to test the sample too was same everytime”, said Prof Chaubey.
“Our team has extracted RNA and performed a RT PCR for all the samples with a true positive and negative sample. Surprisingly none of the samples collected from Ganga showed any trace of viral RNA. However, samples collected from rivers Gomti did show the presence of viral RNA”, said Scientist E and head of BSIP, Niraj Rai. He added that his team has found the presence of virus in Gomti even after the treatment of sewage water at two STP’s (sewage treatment plant) of the city.
He adds that the virus was found in Gomti last year too (September 2020) and this year (May 21).
The finding is also important because of the fact that it has been conducted amid apprehension that water of river Ganga could have been contaminated after several bodies were found floating in river Ganga and Yamuna and large numbers of bodies were buried on their banks during peak of Covid-19 pandemic.
Prof VN Mishra of the department of Neurosciences, BHU and who was one of the key contributors in this study, says, “The findings implies that Ganga water has some exceptional properties due to some natural ‘phage viruses’ present in the water”.
“We are exploring more to understand this phenomenon” said Prof Gyaneshwer Chaubey.
Apart from Prof Mishra and Prof Chaubey, the Varanasi team also included active participation of research scientist’s Abhishek Pathak, Prajjval Pratap Singh, Debashruti Das and Bhargavi.