New 'double mutant' coronavirus variant found in India

By Rajan Nath -- March 24th 2021 02:18 PM -- Updated: March 24th 2021 02:25 PM

A new "double mutant" coronavirus variant has been found in India, the Health Ministry said on Wednesday. In a statement issued by the Centre, 771 variants of concerns (VOCs) have been detected in a total of 10787 positive samples shared by States/UTs.

The samples with these VOCs have been identified in 18 States of the country.

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Meanwhile, the Genome sequencing and analysis have been carried out on samples from arriving international travelers, contacts of those positive for VOC and community samples from most of the States at INSACOG partner laboratories which are 10 in number.

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, it stated.

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These mutations have been found in about 15-20 percent of samples and do not match any previously catalogued VOCs. These have been categorized as VOCs but require the same epidemiological and public health response of “increased testing, comprehensive tracking of close contacts, prompt isolation of positive cases and contacts as well as treatment as per National Treatment Protocol” by the States/UTs.

From Kerala 2032 samples (from all 14 districts) have been sequenced. The N440K variant that is associated with immune escape has been found in 123 samples from 11 districts. This variant was earlier found in 33 percent of samples from Andhra Pradesh, and in 53 of 104 samples from Telangana.

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This variant has also been reported from 16 other countries including UK, Denmark, Singapore, Japan and Australia. As of now these can be at best said to be variant under investigation.

Though variants of concerns and a new double mutant coronavirus variant have been found in India, these have not been detected in numbers sufficient to either establish or direct a relationship or explain the rapid increase in cases in some States.

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-PTC News

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