Saturday, Apr 01, 2023

Explained: How Many Mutant Covid Strains Are Present In India And Are They More Fatal?

Explained: How Many Mutant Covid Strains Are Present In India And Are They More Fatal?

Four mutant strains of Coronavirus have been reported in India—double mutant strain, UK strain, South African strain and Brazilian strain.

A health worker sort swab samples at a testing centre, as coronavirus cases surge across the national capital, at MCD dispensary, Mehrauli, in New Delhi. PTI

Amid the second wave of the pandemic gripping the country, India has also reported many coronavirus variants leading to concerns of mutations causing an increase in the number of fresh infections in the country.

On Sunday, the country logged a record single-day rise of 2,61,500 new coronavirus cases and 1,501 fatalities pushing India’s Covid-19 tally to 1,47,88,109.

With a high number of people getting infected, the chances of the virus mutating at a faster pace has also increased.

Recently, the National Institute of Virology (NIV) detected a strain of coronavirus with a double mutation in samples collected from Maharashtra. The double mutant strain of Coronavirus has been named B.1.617.

However, within a few days of its discovery in India, as many as 77 cases of the variant strain have been reported in the UK. These developments are indicative of how quickly variant strains can spread and highlight the need for increased genome sequencing to map and track the various mutations.

Here’s a list of the various coronavirus strains found in India—

1) Double mutant strain (B.1.617 variant)

The B.1.617 variant contains mutations from two separate virus variants, namely E484Q and L452R. The double mutant strain was found in samples of saliva collected from Maharashtra, Punjab, and Delhi.

According to health experts, the L452R variant was first found in the US, whereas the E484Q variant is indigenous.

The double mutant variant was identified by carrying out genomic sequencing on the latest samples by the Indian SARS-CoV-2 Consortium on Genomics (INSACOG), a group of 10 national laboratories under India's health ministry.

The constituent mutated strains E484Q and L452R were found to be highly infective with high transmission rates. Thus they make B.1.617 more infectious and deadly.

According to the health ministry, this variant can also increase infection rates and easily surpass immune defences.

2) UK Strain (B.1.1.7 Variant)

India reported the UK variant of coronavirus for the first time on December 29. Since then hundreds of cases of the new strain have been reported across the country, with maximum number of cases being reported in Punjab.

While there’s no evidence to prove that it’s more fatal, scientists believe that this strain is 70 per cent more transmissible than the regular Covid-19 strain.

3) South African Strain (B.1.351 Variant)

According to reports, this strain was first reported in the country in February. This strain contains a mutation called N501Y that makes it more transmissible. According to the WHO, this variant “is less susceptible to antibody neutralisation” than previous variants.

4) Brazilian Strain (P.1 Variant)

As of March 30, one case of infection of the Brazilian strain was reported in Maharashtra.

According to the Centres For Disease Control and prevention, all “these variants seem to spread more easily and quickly than other variants, which may lead to more cases of Covid-19.”

So far, studies suggest that antibodies generated through vaccination with currently authorized vaccines recognize these variants. This is being closely investigated and more studies are underway.