Monday, 8 August, 2022
HomeHealthUK & Indian Covid strains two most widely circulated mutant variants in...

UK & Indian Covid strains two most widely circulated mutant variants in India, scientists find

INSACOG says of all samples tested across 27 states, 3,523 were variants of concerns and variants under investigation. Of these, 1,877 were UK variant & 1,527 were Indian variant.

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New Delhi: The two most prevalent variants of concern (VOC) and variants under investigation (VUI) circulating in India are the UK variant (B.1.1.7) and the double mutant variant (B1.617), dubbed the Indian variant, a new analysis by the Indian SARS-CoV-2 Genomics Consortium (INSACOG), has revealed.

The INSACOG, a consortium of 10 laboratories conducting genome sequencing, found that of all the samples tested across 27 states, 3,523 were VOCs and VUIs, according to the findings shared during a press briefing Wednesday.

Of the 3,523 samples, 1,877 were of the UK variant, a VOC, and 1,527 were of the double mutant Indian variant, a VUI. Of the remaining, 127 were of the South African variant (B.1.351) and one was of the Brazil variant (P1), which are also VOCs.

The UK variant has 50 per cent increased transmission and is associated with increased severity. The South African variant is also 50 per cent more transmissible and is found to cause reduced antibody neutralisation, while the Brazil variant causes reduced neutralisation by both antibodies and vaccine.

“The B.1.1.7 variant has been declining. The B1.617 variant was initially found in Maharashtra but now we are seeing this lineage in other places as well. We have seen a correlation between the surge in cases and this variant in certain states,” Dr Sujeet Singh, Director, National Centre for Disease Control (NCDC), said at the press briefing.


Also read: Centre says pandemic seen moving eastwards, reviews Covid situation in 5 states


Prevalence across states

While the UK strain is on the decline, the states with the most samples of this variant included Punjab (516), Delhi (482) and Telangana (192).

A higher proportion of patients reporting the UK variant had a history of travel, according to the data. Of the 1,877 samples, 485 or 25 per cent had a history of travel. This is in contrast to the findings with the double mutant variant, where of 1,527, only 18 samples or 1.1 per cent had a history of travel.

The double mutant Indian strain was found most commonly in Maharashtra, with 761 samples, 146 from Jharkhand, 124 from West Bengal, and 102 from Gujarat.

“The B1.617 strain’s epidemiological and clinical correlation is still under investigation. We cannot directly link a variant with a surge unless it is clinically correlated,” Singh said.

Early warning signs

The Indian variant’s spread has been a matter of public concern and controversy after it was revealed that the INSACOG had identified and raised flags about the strain in early March.

The INSACOG found that the two mutations of strain — called E484Q and L452R — were of “high concern”.

“There is data of E484Q mutant viruses escaping highly neutralising antibodies in cultures, and there is data that L452R mutation was responsible for both increased transmissibility and immune escape,” they had written in a draft statement.

The Government of India maintains that the strain is still under investigation and not one of concern.


Also read: Rapid antigen — why the less preferred Covid test has now become ICMR’s go-to option


 

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