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‘Indian Strain’ Of Coronavirus Spreads Faster, But Little Evidence Of It Being More Lethal: Experts

The B.1.617 variant of SARS-CoV2, also being called a ‘double mutant’ or the ‘Indian strain’, has been found prevalent largely in Maharashtra and Delhi that have been severely hit by a devastating second wave of the pandemic, say experts

'Indian Strain' Of Coronavirus Spreads Faster, But Little Evidence Of It Being More Lethal: Experts

New Delhi: The ‘Indian strain’ of the coronavirus carries higher transmissibility similar to the UK variant, but there is little evidence so far of it being more lethal than the original virus, experts have said. The B.1.617 variant of SARS-CoV2, also being called a ‘double mutant’ or the ‘Indian strain’, has been found prevalent largely in Maharashtra and Delhi that have been severely hit by a devastating second wave of the pandemic.

Also Read: Second Wave Of Coronavirus: Countries Promise Medical Support To India Amid Rising COVID-19 Cases

In many cities in Maharashtra — the worst-hit state in the country — the B.1.617 variant was found in more than 50 per cent of samples on which genome sequencing was conducted, while the proportion of the UK variant was 28 per cent in the second week of March, Sujeet Singh, the Director of the National Centre for Disease Control, had said in a webinar on genome sequencing last week. The number of coronavirus cases has exploded in Delhi and Maharashtra over the last few weeks and crippled the healthcare sector.

Several hospitals in Delhi have reported an acute shortage of medical oxygen and are scrambling to save the lives of patients. Anurag Agrawal, the Director of the Institute of Genomics and Integrative Biology (IGIB), told PTI,

As far as we know, neither the UK variant nor this one (B.1.617) is associated with increased severity of illness or death. The UK strain is proven to have higher transmissibility and B.1.617 may have increased transmissibility. But this (that the B.1.617 variant has more transmissibility) has not been proven and there are several characterises to prove it and the studies have not been completed.

IGIB is one of the 10 laboratories spread across the country that are involved in genome sequencing of the virus. He, however, added that there is no comparison of which variant has increased transmissibility.

But looking at Maharashtra’s experience, it looks more transmissible, but it is yet to be proven. Looking at the general evidence, it (B.1.617) may be more transmissible, he said.

Also Read: “No Need To Panic”: AIIMS Chief, Top Doctors Clear Doubts About India’s COVID Surge

When asked about the increased deaths in the state in comparison to the first wave last year, Mr. Agrawal said this has direct relation with how transmissible the variant is. The more the patients are infected, the more will be the toll, he said.

The B.1.617 variant has three new spike protein mutations. Two mutations — E484Q and L452R — are in the area important for antibody-based neutralisation. The third mutation — P681R — allows the virus to enter cells a little better. These are defining characteristics of the variant.

Soumitra Das, the Director of the National Centre for Biological Sciences, said there is no report on the lethality of B.1.617 yet. NCBS in Kalyani in West Bengal is one of the 10 organisations involved in the genome sequencing of the coronavirus.

In a webinar on genome sequencing of the coronavirus last week, Soumitra Das had said variants found in India are not really escaping our vaccinated sera, suggesting that the available vaccines are effective on them. In its initial result on the efficacy of the Covishield vaccine, the Centre for Cellular and Molecular Biology, another premier institute that has been studying the virus, said the vaccine is effective against the B.1.617 strain.

Also Read: Study Reveals Mother-To-Newborn COVID-19 Infection Rates Are Low But Indirect Risks Exist

(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)

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World

22,70,55,138Cases
18,97,86,461Active
3,25,98,424Recovered
46,70,253Deaths
Coronavirus has spread to 195 countries. The total confirmed cases worldwide are 22,70,55,138 and 46,70,253 have died; 18,97,86,461 are active cases and 3,25,98,424 have recovered as on September 17, 2021 at 5:36 am.

India

3,33,81,728 34,403Cases
3,39,0563,867Active
3,25,98,424 37,950Recovered
4,44,248 320Deaths
In India, there are 3,33,81,728 confirmed cases including 4,44,248 deaths. The number of active cases is 3,39,056 and 3,25,98,424 have recovered as on September 17, 2021 at 2:30 am.

State Details

State Cases Active Recovered Deaths
Maharashtra

65,11,525 3,595

52,893 310

63,20,310 3,240

1,38,322 45

Kerala

44,46,228 22,182

1,86,754 4,559

42,36,309 26,563

23,165 178

Karnataka

29,65,191 1,108

16,202 282

29,11,434 808

37,555 18

Tamil Nadu

26,40,361 1,693

16,756 120

25,88,334 1,548

35,271 25

Andhra Pradesh

20,34,786 1,367

14,708 105

20,06,034 1,248

14,044 14

Uttar Pradesh

17,09,628 23

193 11

16,86,549 11

22,886 1

West Bengal

15,59,567 707

8,025 25

15,32,922 725

18,620 7

Delhi

14,38,373 28

409 5

14,12,880 22

25,084 1

Odisha

10,18,298 580

5,335 105

10,04,845 681

8,118 4

Chhattisgarh

10,04,988 31

352 2

9,91,077 29

13,559

Rajasthan

9,54,230 4

103 1

9,45,173 5

8,954

Gujarat

8,25,677 22

149 0

8,15,446 22

10,082

Madhya Pradesh

7,92,374 7

119 5

7,81,738 12

10,517

Haryana

7,70,697 9

327 8

7,60,562 17

9,808

Bihar

7,25,864 12

72 6

7,16,134 6

9,658

Telangana

6,62,785 259

5,282 43

6,53,603 301

3,900 1

Punjab

6,01,180 30

314 11

5,84,399 38

16,467 3

Assam

5,97,074 468

5,381 15

5,85,914 479

5,779 4

Jharkhand

3,48,102 6

102 8

3,42,867 14

5,133

Uttarakhand

3,43,330 20

284 12

3,35,657 32

7,389

Jammu And Kashmir

3,27,466 170

1,421 72

3,21,630 98

4,415

Himachal Pradesh

2,16,430 127

1,568 82

2,11,215 206

3,647 3

Goa

1,75,183 95

699 1

1,71,195 96

3,289

Puducherry

1,25,170 107

963 63

1,22,380 42

1,827 2

Manipur

1,17,913 216

2,614 7

1,13,478 219

1,821 4

Tripura

83,787 31

427 26

82,553 56

807 1

Meghalaya

78,958 229

1,804 140

75,784 86

1,370 3

Mizoram

76,591 1,121

13,888 85

62,449 1,202

254 4

Chandigarh

65,168 4

31 2

64,319 2

818

Arunachal Pradesh

53,990 47

536 9

53,183 56

271

Sikkim

30,802 64

775 28

29,648 36

379

Nagaland

30,763 32

505 14

29,610 44

648 2

Ladakh

20,631 6

41 1

20,383 5

207

Dadra And Nagar Haveli

10,670

5 0

10,661

4

Lakshadweep

10,353

4 0

10,298

51

Andaman And Nicobar Islands

7,595 3

15 2

7,451 1

129

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