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New COVID-19 Strain Could Have Entered India Prior To December, Says AIIMS Director

“The coronavirus has undergone some changes and mutations at various places. The reason of concern with this UK strain is that pre-epidemiological data shows it is more infectious and spreads more rapidly as far as disease is concerned,” AIIMS Director Dr. Randeep Guleria said

New COVID-19 Strain Could Have Entered India Prior To December, Says AIIMS Director
Highlights
  • India has confirmed at least 20 cases of the new UK strain of COVID-19
  • The new strain is 70 per cent more infectious, say experts
  • The new strain is COVID-19 which has undergone mutations: Dr Guleria

New Delhi: With India confirming at least 20 cases of the new UK strain of COVID-19, All India Institute of Medical Sciences director Randeep Guleria on Wednesday (December 30) said that it is a possibility that the new mutation could have been present in the country even in November as the mutant strain was reported in the United Kingdom in September and there might be people who would have been infected.

Also Read: Sufficient Immunisation To Stop COVID-19 Spread Could Take 6 Months, Says AIIMS Director As India Gets Vaccine Ready

When asked if the COVID-19 mutation which has 70 per cent more infectious was present in India before it was officially reported in the country in December, Dr. Guleria told ANI,

There is a possibility that this may happen because we must remember that this strain was first reported in the end of September and there were people who have an infection with this strain in UK. It is difficult to say and will depend upon data. There are studies being done in our country by the SARS-CoV-2 Genomic Consortia (INSACOG), which are looking at the samples even from November onwards, he said.

He added that the number was not very high but we had travel going on from UK even at that point of time. He said,

If you look at the data from Holland, they have said that there were persons who reported this strain even before it was reported by UK as a global warning in December. So, there is a possibility that this strain may have been even before December and it may have entered in India in November or early part of December.

The AIIMS director said that the new COVID-19 strain reported is “more infectious” and is a matter of concern.

The coronavirus has undergone some changes and mutations at various places. The reason of concern with this UK strain is that pre-epidemiological data shows it is more infectious and spreads more rapidly as far as disease is concerned, he said.

Also Read: Study Sheds Light On Explanation For Lack Of Blood Oxygenation Detected In Many COVID-19 Patients

Dr. Guleria said extra caution needs to be taken even though the new strain is not causing a significant effect on the number of cases and hospitalization but owning to an increase in its transmissibility, a large number of people could get infected.

If you look at it epidemiologically this strain leads to an increase in infectiveness that means a large number of people get infected. Now, if you look at our data for the last four to six weeks, there was no spike in the number of cases. We are consistently showing a downward trend. Therefore it is unlikely that this strain even if it had entered India is causing a significant effect on our cases and hospitalization. But we need to be extra careful and make sure that we don’t let it come in our country in a big way and if it is there we take measures that it does not spread rapidly in the community so that we don’t have an increase in the number of cases and we continue our downward trend, he said.

Dr Guleria explained how the vaccine works and said that the strain reported in UK will not impact on the vaccines.

Vaccines act by producing antibodies that are directed against the spike protein. The spike protein is the antigen that produces the antibodies. But the vaccine acts at multiple sites of this spike protein and the mutation has occurred in only a small area of the spike protein. So the vaccine will still be effective in producing antibodies. Vaccines also produce Cell-mediated immunity or T-Cell immunity. Therefore vaccines are producing immunity in a person by multiple mechanisms and therefore the vaccines that are coming out will still be effective against this variant, he said.

He further said that the new strain is “still COVID-19, which has just undergone mutations and this has been happening over the last ten months.”

The only reason why we are more concerned is that this mutation as compared to the previous mutation is that the data from UK suggest that this mutation has clinical significance. The study shows that this strain is more infectious, therefore it is a matter of concern and lot of things are set in place by the government in terms of flights from UK, setting up the consortium to really see whether this strain has come to India. In case there is an increase in the number of cases, we are able to take action. India is in a very good position, our daily new cases have come down, our recovery rate is high and the case fatality rate is down, Dr. Guleria said.

Also Read: Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 Vaccine Approved By UK Regulator

(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

24,29,84,542Cases
20,45,14,204Active
3,35,32,126Recovered
49,38,212Deaths
Coronavirus has spread to 195 countries. The total confirmed cases worldwide are 24,29,84,542 and 49,38,212 have died; 20,45,14,204 are active cases and 3,35,32,126 have recovered as on October 23, 2021 at 3:51 am.

India

3,41,59,562 16,326Cases
1,73,7282,017Active
3,35,32,126 17,677Recovered
4,53,708 666Deaths
In India, there are 3,41,59,562 confirmed cases including 4,53,708 deaths. The number of active cases is 1,73,728 and 3,35,32,126 have recovered as on October 23, 2021 at 2:30 am.

State Details

State Cases Active Recovered Deaths
Maharashtra

65,99,850 1,632

27,747 152

64,32,138 1,744

1,39,965 40

Kerala

48,97,884 9,361

81,490 603

47,88,629 9,401

27,765 563

Karnataka

29,85,227 378

8,920 97

29,38,312 464

37,995 11

Tamil Nadu

26,92,949 1,152

13,531 259

26,43,431 1,392

35,987 19

Andhra Pradesh

20,62,781 478

5,398 102

20,43,050 574

14,333 6

Uttar Pradesh

17,10,069 1

85 22

16,87,085 23

22,899

West Bengal

15,84,492 846

7,577 42

15,57,882 792

19,033 12

Delhi

14,39,526 38

340 29

14,14,095 8

25,091 1

Odisha

10,37,523 467

4,197 139

10,25,025 603

8,301 3

Chhattisgarh

10,05,799 26

214 8

9,92,013 18

13,572

Rajasthan

9,54,396 1

32 4

9,45,410 5

8,954

Gujarat

8,26,378 25

165 9

8,16,126 16

10,087

Madhya Pradesh

7,92,729 8

80 8

7,82,126 16

10,523

Haryana

7,71,133 8

122 9

7,60,962 17

10,049

Bihar

7,26,045 3

30 0

7,16,354 3

9,661

Telangana

6,69,932 193

3,963 4

6,62,025 196

3,944 1

Assam

6,08,126 315

3,866 104

5,98,296 209

5,964 2

Punjab

6,02,163 28

230 4

5,85,382 24

16,551

Jharkhand

3,48,562 36

183 17

3,43,244 19

5,135

Uttarakhand

3,43,799 12

166 10

3,36,235 22

7,398

Jammu And Kashmir

3,31,494 108

870 56

3,26,195 52

4,429

Himachal Pradesh

2,22,312 174

1,483 31

2,17,096 141

3,733 2

Goa

1,77,819 54

600 18

1,73,862 72

3,357

Puducherry

1,27,621 57

454 0

1,25,314 56

1,853 1

Manipur

1,23,107 56

906 440

1,20,294 494

1,907 2

Mizoram

1,16,689 745

9,636 398

1,06,653 1,143

400

Tripura

84,376 7

98 7

83,462 14

816

Meghalaya

83,269 59

698 37

81,128 94

1,443 2

Chandigarh

65,320 5

28 2

64,472 3

820

Arunachal Pradesh

55,075 10

141 1

54,654 9

280

Sikkim

31,842 23

183 2

31,266 25

393

Nagaland

31,689 19

245 5

30,766 23

678 1

Ladakh

20,896

40 3

20,648 3

208

Dadra And Nagar Haveli

10,679 1

4 0

10,671 1

4

Lakshadweep

10,365

0 0

10,314

51

Andaman And Nicobar Islands

7,646

6 1

7,511 1

129

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