COVID-19 Outbreak Explained: What Is The “Double Mutant” Variant Of Coronavirus Found In India?

COVID-19 Outbreak Explained: What Is The “Double Mutant” Variant Of Coronavirus Found In India?

According to experts, research is going on to check if the variant, where two mutations come together in the same virus, maybe more infectious or less affected by vaccines
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COVID-19 Outbreak Explained: What Is The "Double Mutant" Variant Of Coronavirus Found In India?The new mutation reported in the country on Wednesday (March 24) is the result of the combination of the E484Q which is an indigenous strain and L452R, a foreign strain
Highlights
  • Double mutant variant has been found in some states in India
  • Mutations is a common phenomenon in viruses: Experts
  • The new variant has double mutations- E484Q and L452R

New Delhi: As the country has been facing another wave of the coronavirus pandemic with the number of cases rising every day, several new variants have been coming up of the virus, SARS-CoV-2, which causes COVID-19. On Wednesday (March 24), the Ministry of Health and Family (MoHFW) said that the scientists who have been studying the genome (the complete set of genetic information of an organism) of the novel coronavirus have identified a “double mutant” variant in the country. It said that this new variant has been detected in samples from some states and Union Territories including Maharashtra, Kerala, Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Delhi, Gujarat, Punjab among others.

Also Read: Mutations Are Not Riding The Current Surge Of COVID-19 In India: Dr VK Paul, NITI Aayog

What Is The “Double Mutant” Variant?

According to Dr Rakesh Mishra, the Director of Center For Cellular & Microbiology, in Hyderabad, where the ‘double mutant’ variant was first sequenced,

Mutations in viruses are common. Like all viruses, the coronavirus keeps changing in small ways as it passes from one person to another. However, most are insignificant and do not cause any change in their ability to transmit or cause infections. Some though, like the ones in the United Kingdom or South Africa, can make the virus more infectious and, in some cases, even deadlier.

Earlier in the pandemic, only one mutation was seen in the spikes of the receptor of the virus that helps in binding the virus with host cells. Receptors in the virus produce an immune response in the host body. Over the past year of the pandemic, thousands of such mutations have been identified, said Dr Mishra. He explained that a ‘double mutation’ is when two mutated strains of a virus come together to form a third strain.

The new mutation reported in the country on Wednesday is the result of the combination of the E484Q which is an indigenous strain and L452R, a foreign strain.

Also Read: Coronavirus Mutation May Have Made It More Contagious, Finds Study

Is The New Mutation Another ‘Variants Of Concern’?

According to Dr Randeep Guleria, Director, AIIMS-Delhi, because the mutations in the virus are normal and expected, the medical community’s concern lies in what is called as the “Variant of Concern”. He further explained that these “Variants of Concern” are those variants that have some clinical consequences like either those mutations cause an increase in the number of cases or cause more severe cases or cause more mortality or have an immune escape mechanism which means that the people who have already suffered COVID-19 have a high chance of reinfection and those who have been vaccinated are not protected adequately even after being vaccinated. Currently, as per the Union Health Ministry, there are three previously discovered mutations- first noticed in the United Kingdom, South Africa and Brazil which are the “Variants of Concern”. These variants have, so far, been found in at least 18 states and UTs.

Explaining about the concerns related to mutations, Dr Sushila Kataria, Senior Director, Internal Medicine Department, Medanta said that some mutations in the spike gene can make the virus more virulent or can help the virus become more resistant to the antibodies and thus escape the body’s immune response. A combination of more than one mutation can enhance this in the virus. However, according to Dr Mishra, as of now, mutations cannot be deemed responsible for the surge in COVID-19 cases in the country. He said,

The new strain is efficient, but it is not yet a super spreader. There is no reason to believe that it is more deadly, just yet. But more investigation is required to understand this.

Nevertheless, what is confirmed, according to the experts is that as long as the virus is allowed to spread from person to person, more variants are going to form. Too many mutations can affect the efficiency of vaccines, said Dr Kataria, adding that even though there are vaccines available, there is still a need to stop the virus from spreading.

While talking about the impact of the new variant on the effectiveness of the vaccines- Covishield and Covaxin that are being used currently for inoculating people against the coronavirus, Dr Mishra said,

So far there is no reason to believe vaccines in India – Covishield and Covaxin – will not work against these new strains. But experts say the time has come to bring more vaccines to India. Vaccines developed by Pfizer and Moderna have better efficacy rates and have been proven to act against the new strains. This is the need of the hour.

The Union Health Ministry said that Genomic sequencing (a testing process to understand the complete genetics of an organism) is being done by the Indian SARS-CoV-2 Consortium on Genomics (INSACOG), a group of 10 national laboratories under India’s health ministry, and epidemiological studies are continuing to further analyse the situation. So far, the bulk of infections linked to this strain – around 20 per cent – have been reported from Maharashtra – 206 cases, the ministry added.

Also Read: COVID-19 Outbreak Explained: What Is Coronavirus Mutation And What Are The Dangers?

NDTV – Dettol Banega Swasth India campaign is an extension of the five-year-old Banega Swachh India initiative helmed by Campaign Ambassador Amitabh Bachchan. It aims to spread awareness about critical health issues facing the country. In wake of the current COVID-19 pandemic, the need for WASH (WaterSanitation and Hygiene) is reaffirmed as handwashing is one of the ways to prevent Coronavirus infection and other diseases. The campaign highlights the importance of nutrition and healthcare for women and children to prevent maternal and child mortality, fight malnutrition, stunting, wasting, anaemia and disease prevention through vaccines. Importance of programmes like Public Distribution System (PDS), Mid-day Meal Scheme, POSHAN Abhiyan and the role of Aganwadis and ASHA workers are also covered. Only a Swachh or clean India where toilets are used and open defecation free (ODF) status achieved as part of the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan launched by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in 2014, can eradicate diseases like diahorrea and become a Swasth or healthy India. The campaign will continue to cover issues like air pollutionwaste managementplastic banmanual scavenging and sanitation workers and menstrual hygiene

World

19,78,31,904Cases
6,39,24,968Active
12,96,89,916Recovered
42,17,020Deaths
Coronavirus has spread to 194 countries. The total confirmed cases worldwide are 19,78,31,904 and 42,17,020 have died; 6,39,24,968 are active cases and 12,96,89,916 have recovered as on August 1, 2021 at 3:55 am.

India

3,16,55,824 41,831Cases
4,10,952 2,032Active
3,08,20,521 39,258Recovered
4,24,351 541Deaths
In India, there are 3,16,55,824 confirmed cases including 4,24,351 deaths. The number of active cases is 4,10,952 and 3,08,20,521 have recovered as on August 1, 2021 at 2:30 am.

State Details

State Cases Active Recovered Deaths
Maharashtra

63,03,715 6,959

80,138 733

60,90,786 7,467

1,32,791 225

Kerala

33,90,761 20,624

1,65,011 3,679

32,08,969 16,865

16,781 80

Karnataka

29,05,124 1,987

23,820 318

28,44,742 1,632

36,562 37

Tamil Nadu

25,59,597 1,986

20,716 218

25,04,805 2,178

34,076 26

Andhra Pradesh

19,66,175 2,058

21,180 18

19,31,618 2,053

13,377 23

Uttar Pradesh

17,08,441 31

712 17

16,84,973 48

22,756

West Bengal

15,28,019 769

11,113 58

14,98,770 819

18,136 8

Delhi

14,36,265 58

581 1

14,10,631 56

25,053 1

Chhattisgarh

10,02,008 102

1,863 102

9,86,621 203

13,524 1

Odisha

9,77,268 1,578

14,538 389

9,56,828 1,899

5,902 68

Rajasthan

9,53,667 17

248 6

9,44,465 22

8,954 1

Gujarat

8,24,877 27

252 8

8,14,549 35

10,076

Madhya Pradesh

7,91,828 22

122 1

7,81,193 21

10,513

Haryana

7,69,913 29

712 0

7,59,566 27

9,635 2

Bihar

7,24,835 44

457 1

7,14,735 45

9,643

Telangana

6,44,951 621

9,069 72

6,32,080 691

3,802 2

Punjab

5,99,104 51

534 10

5,82,277 60

16,293 1

Assam

5,66,198 989

13,322 510

5,47,616 1,480

5,260 19

Jharkhand

3,47,173 36

252 8

3,41,793 44

5,128

Uttarakhand

3,42,139 116

632 13

3,34,145 129

7,362

Jammu And Kashmir

3,21,462 118

1,176 5

3,15,908 113

4,378

Himachal Pradesh

2,06,027 153

1,217 80

2,01,289 72

3,521 1

Goa

1,71,146 94

1,058 35

1,66,941 128

3,147 1

Puducherry

1,20,915 100

962 17

1,18,158 115

1,795 2

Manipur

98,499 801

10,540 195

86,403 981

1,556 15

Tripura

78,583 222

3,482 2

74,346 224

755

Meghalaya

65,000 686

5,966 175

57,949 499

1,085 12

Chandigarh

61,953 1

31 5

61,111 5

811 1

Arunachal Pradesh

48,122 266

3,954 188

43,939 451

229 3

Mizoram

38,925 861

12,388 213

26,387 643

150 5

Nagaland

27,872 159

1,329 55

25,977 99

566 5

Sikkim

26,548 237

3,400 98

22,804 137

344 2

Ladakh

20,338 10

56 6

20,075 4

207

Dadra And Nagar Haveli

10,650 6

29 1

10,617 7

4

Lakshadweep

10,189 11

84 7

10,055 4

50

Andaman And Nicobar Islands

7,537 2

8 0

7,400 2

129

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