Study by experts from Lucknow's BSIP & Varanasi's BHU infers River Ganga as COVID-free

The study was conducted from May 15 to July 3 by collecting the sample from the same location in Varanasi.

Ending conjecture regarding the presence of the deadly virus in River Ganga, the waterbody has now been declared as COVID-free. While the experts from Birbal Sahni Institute of Palaeosciences in Lucknow, spotted the presence of the virus in Ganga waters earlier, a two-month research has now inferred that the waterbody is free from the contagion. This study was conducted by medical and genetic experts of Banaras Hindu University (BHU), Varanasi and BSIP, Lucknow.

Deep investigation of RNA samples led to the findings

Prof Gyaneshwar Chaubey, an academic from the Department of Zoology at BHU, informed that a collective group of officials from BHU and BSIP studied the probable presence of the virus in Ganga. This study was executed after the researchers expressed apprehensions in this regard.

BSIP scientist Niraj Rai, the head of the centre's COVID lab, said, "Our team extracted RNA and performed an RT-PCR test for all the samples with a true positive and negative sample. Surprisingly, none of the samples collected from the Ganga showed any trace of the viral RNA. However, samples collected from river Gomti did show the presence of viral RNA." Through deep investigation of RNA samples, the experts have reached the current conclusion.

Study conducted from May 15 to July 3

As a part of the assessment, the team sourced two samples every week for a period of seven weeks, from the stretch of the river in Varanasi. Starting from May 15, the sample was collected from the same location every time till July 3. Besides, the same testing procedure was deployed each time to ensure consistency in results. As per the official, the team had spotted the presence earlier in Gomti water, in September 2020 and in May this year.

Prof V.N. Mishra of BHU's Department of Neurosciences stated, "The finding implies that Ganga water has some exceptional property due to some natural 'phage viruses' present in the water. We are exploring more to understand this phenomenon."

- With inputs from IANS

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