According to the Union Ministry, the double mutant virus was found in 15-20% of Maharashtra samples.
On March 24, 2021, the Union Health Ministry announced that a new “double mutant variant” of COVID-19 had been discovered in 18 Indian states and UTs. Other COVID-19 variants discovered elsewhere have also been found in the country.
The sudden increase in coronavirus cases in the country, particularly in Maharashtra, has been attributed largely to the double mutant variant of COVID-19. The claim has been denied by the Ministry of Health.
According to the Union Ministry, the double mutant virus has been found in 15-20% of Maharashtra samples.
•According to the Health Ministry, an analysis of Maharashtra samples revealed an increase in the fraction of samples with the E484Q and L452R mutations in comparison to December 2020.
These mutations confer immune escape and increased infectivity, and they have been found in approximately 15-20% of samples.
•According to the Ministry, the mutations do not match any previously catalogued VOCs [variants of concern].
•The Ministry went on to say that, while these have been classified as VOCs, they require the same epidemiological and public health response of increased testing, comprehensive tracking of close contacts, and prompt isolation of positive cases and their contacts, as well as treatment, as per National Treatment Protocol by the States/UTs.
•INSACOG, a network of ten Indian labs dedicated to genomic sequencing and analysis of circulating Covid-19 viruses, discovered the double mutant variant of SARS-CoV-2.
What is a double mutant variant of COVID-19?
Dr. Rakesh Mishra, Director of the Center For Cellular & Microbiology in Hyderabad, believes that “Each variant has a different mutation pattern. Normally, we only see one mutation, but this new double mutant variant is defined by two mutations that occur concurrently.”
He went on to say that earlier in the pandemic, only one mutation was found in the spikes of the virus’s receptor, which aids in the virus’s binding to host cells. The virus’s receptors trigger an immune response in the host.
Thousands of such mutations have been discovered all over the world. A ‘double mutation,’ on the other hand, occurs when two mutated strains of a virus combine to form a third strain, he explained.
The new mutation is said to be the result of the combination of an indigenous strain, E484Q, and a foreign strain, L452R.
In India, where has the double mutant variant been found?
The new variant has been detected in samples from several states and union territories, including Maharashtra, Kerala, Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Delhi, Gujarat, and Punjab, among others, according to the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare.
Is the COVID-19 double variant lethal?
According to Rakesh Mishra, the new strain is effective, but it is not yet a super spreader, and there is no reason to believe it is more lethal. However, he stated that more research is needed to fully comprehend this.
Other Variants of Concern:
•In 10,787 samples, the Indian consortium on genomics (INSACOG) discovered 771 other variants of concern, including UK (736), Brazilian (1), and South African (34) variants.
•However, according to the Health Ministry, these variants have not been detected in sufficient numbers to establish a direct relationship or explain the rapid increase in cases in some states.