Multiple mutations in the coronavirus over 15 months are making parts of it unrecognisable to laboratory tests

It starts with a cough. Then comes fever and you feel short of breath. An alarm goes off in your mind. Is it Covid? You are so relieved when the test comes out negative, but four days later you are no better. A second test confirms Covid.

Many patients have experienced this in the second wave. As TOI reported on Tuesday, about 1 in 5 patients may get a false negative report. Sometimes, second and third tests also fail to spot the virus.

It’s worrying because the coronavirus is now fooling RT-PCR tests — the most reliable type. A false…


Tracking technology helped me get a refund from an Indian Oil outlet that cheated me out of more than Rs 1,000

Photo: Wikipedia

Years ago, I made a habit of filling up my car around the halfway mark after reading somewhere it’s good for the (car’s) fuel pump. With work-from-home, the need to fill up has arisen rarely in the past year, but a few days ago the fuel level was down to half, and my PUC was also coming due, so I drove to a nearby Indian Oil outlet here in Indirapuram, Ghaziabad.

My car has a 35-litre tank, and with petrol around the 90-rupee mark, I expected to pay about Rs 1,500. The attendant set the dispenser’s meter to zero, made…


The Wuhan Institute of Virology not only collects and stores wild coronaviruses but also makes new variants with mixed traits. For some years, it had been experimenting on a bat virus that is the closest known relative of the Covid virus

Photo: Wikipedia

Where did the Covid virus, SARS-CoV-2, come from? The leading theory is that it was a bat virus that somehow learnt to infect humans. But how that happened is a question that divides scientists.

The vocal majority says the crossover from bats to humans happened naturally. Those who suggest the virus may have escaped from a Chinese research lab are labeled batty conspiracy-theorists.

But a year on, this minority is making itself heard. Several recent articles in reputed publications challenge the view that a lab leak is out of the question. Mind you, they are not saying China made the…

Abhilash Gaur

Writer

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