Scientists in India and the United States are battling over whether the H1N1 swine influenza virus has mutated into a strain more virulent than the one that has killed at least 1,700 people in India this year.
Researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) said their genetic tests show the mutation, and they criticized India's monitoring methods. India's National Institute of Virology countered that this was not so and that there has been no such mutation.
The dispute is over studies of genetic information on two strains placed in a public database over the past two years. They were reexamined by both warring institutes. India and other scientists dismissed the MIT findings as too insignificant for the conclusion reached.
For now, India authorities are operating on their belief that the strain is the same one that killed 284,000 people in the worldwide pandemic of 2009-2010.
The India health ministry counted the 1,710th death due to the disease from among 29,558 cases as of March 14. India recorded only 218 deaths from the disease last year.