As the country is witnessing a rise in Covid cases, a new variant, ‘N440K’ is creating a buzz – It is spreading a lot more in the southern states especially Andhra Pradesh as compared to the other Covid variants.
According to reports, this new variant of SARS-CoV-2 is the reason behind the havoc caused in Visakhapatnam, Karnataka, Telangana, and other southern parts. This virus was also found in parts of Maharashtra and Chhattisgarh.
What is ‘N440K’?
N440K is a powerful variant that spreads rapidly – It leads to severe Covid-related complications. As per reports, it is 15 times more virulent than the original variant because if a person gets infected with the original variant, he/she would reach the dyspnea or hypoxia stage within a week, but if a person gets infected with the N440K variant, he/she would reach the serious condition-stage within just three-four days. The Andhra Covid strain can transmit to more than four people within a short span.
What did CCMB find about N440K?
The Hyderabad-based Centre for Cellular and Molecular Biology (CCMB) recently said no evidence regarding the Andhra coronavirus strain is deadly or more infectious than others.
Okay, so there has been a lot of news circulating about N440K variant being or not being the cause of second wave based on a study from our lab...I will just try to clarify the findings which have been discussed and how the findings were interpreted: a thread#N440K #LongCovid— Vishal Sah (@acurious_one) May 4, 2021
Speaking to The Print, CCMB’s Director Rakesh Mishra said that N440K is less than 5 per cent in the state and is on the verge of getting disappeared or replaced by other existing Covid variants.
“There is no unique AP strain or a Vishakapatnam strain. Neither were any existing strains found to be more infectious or deadly than what we already saw before. The N440K has been around for quite some time and was prevalent in other southern states (Karnataka, Kerala) earlier. But now the N440K in Andhra is less than 5 per cent and is likely to be replaced by a double mutant or any other variant. It could have been around during the first wave also,” Rakesh Mishra was quoted as saying.
Meanwhile, CCMB’s Vishal Seth, one of the authors of the pre-print, took to his Twitter handle and clarified that the study did not compare the virus with B.1.17 UK or B.1.617 Indian variant. He wrote, “We did not compare the infective titer of N440K with the UK or double mutant in this study. We compared it with its parent strain which did not have N440K mutation and with another strain which is now almost lost among the population.”
Besides, speaking to The New Indian Express, Mishra said the N440K strain, which was found in 20-30 per cent of samples in Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu, and Telangana will fade away in the coming weeks.
However, people are advised to strictly adhere to Covid Appropriate Behaviour like wearing a mask, maintaining physical distance, personal hygiene, and proper sanitation, as the new variant of Covid-19 — B.1.617 known as the ‘Double Mutant’ or ‘Indian Variant,’ is steadily becoming a dominant ‘variant’ of Coronavirus, he said.