New double mutant variant of the COVID-19 virus has been found in India: Health Ministry
Amid rising number of coronavirus cases in India, the health ministry informed that a new double mutant variant has been found in the country.
The Indian SARS-CoV-2 Consortium on Genomics (INSACOG), a group of 10 national laboratories established by the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, have been responsible for carrying out genomic sequencing and analysis of circulating COVID-19 viruses.
INSACOG’s analysis on samples from Maharashtra has revealed some mutations which do not match with the previously catalogued variants of concerns (VOCs).
"The analysis of samples from Maharashtra has revealed that compared to December 2020, there has been an increase in the fraction of samples with the E484Q and L452R mutations. Such mutations confer immune escape and increased infectivity. These mutations have been found in about 15-20% of samples and do not match any previously catalogued VOCs,” the ministry said in a statement.
The Ministry added that the variants have been categorised as VOCs and will need the same epidemiological and public health response including increased testing, comprehensive tracking of close contacts, prompt isolation of positive cases, and treatment as per the National Treatment Protocol.
However, the ministry also revealed that the VOCs and the new variant have not been detected in sufficient numbers to explain the rapid increase of COVID-19 cases in some states.
“Genomic sequencing and epidemiological studies are continuing to further analyse the situation,” the statement noted.
The ministry also informed that 771 VOCs have been detected in a total of 10,787 positive samples shared by States/UTs since INSACOG initiated its work. This includes 736 positive samples for viruses of the UK lineage, 34 positive samples for South African lineage, and one positive sample of the Brazilian lineage.
Days after Prime Minister Narendra Modi held a meeting with chief ministers over the rising coronavirus cases, the Union Cabinet recently announced all people above 45 years of age, even without any comorbidities, are entitled to get the COVID-19 vaccine.