‘Variants of Concern’ with UK, Brazil lineage detected in positive samples from 18 states
GN Bureau | March 24, 2021
New ‘variants of concerns’ (VOCs) and a new double mutant variant of the Novel Coronavirus has been detected in India, the health ministry said Wednesday, though they may not be behind the recent surge in new infections in some states.
“Though VOCs and a new double mutant variant have been found in India, these have not been detected in numbers sufficient to either establish or direct relationship or explain the rapid increase in cases in some states. Genomic sequencing and epidemiological studies are continuing to further analyze the situation,” an official release said.
The Indian SARS-CoV-2 Consortium on Genomics (INSACOG), a grouping of 10 national laboratories established by the ministry in December, has been carrying out genomic sequencing and analysis of circulating COVID-19 viruses, and correlating epidemiological trends with genomic variants. Genomic variants of various viruses are a natural phenomenon and are found in almost all countries.
Since INSACOG initiated its work, 771 variants of concerns (VOCs) have been detected in a total of 10,787 positive samples shared by states/UTs. These include 736 samples positive for viruses of the UK (B.1.1.7) lineage. As many as 34 samples were found positive for viruses of the South African (B.1.351) lineage. One sample was found positive for viruses of the Brazilian (P.1) lineage. The samples with these VOCs have been identified in 18 states of the country.
Genome sequencing and analysis have been carried out on samples from arriving international travelers, contacts of those positive for VOC and community samples from most of the states at the 10 INSACOG partner laboratories.
The analysis of samples from Maharashtra has revealed that compared to December 2020, there has been an increase in the fraction of samples with the E484Q and L452R mutations. Such mutations confer immune escape and increased infectivity. These mutations have been found in about 15-20% of samples and do not match any previously catalogued VOCs. These have been categorized as VOCs but require the same epidemiological and public health response of “increased testing, comprehensive tracking of close contacts, prompt isolation of positive cases & contacts as well as treatment as per National Treatment Protocol” by the states/UTs.
From Kerala 2032 samples (from all 14 districts) have been sequenced. The N440K variant that is associated with immune escape has been found in 123 samples from 11 districts. This variant was earlier found in 33% of samples from Andhra Pradesh, and in 53 of 104 samples from Telangana. This variant has also been reported from 16 other countries including the UK, Denmark, Singapore, Japan and Australia. “As of now these can be at best said to be variant under investigation,” the release noted.
Maharashtra has modified guidelines on restrictions imposed to curb the spread of Covid-19, and put out clarifications on do Do’s and Don’ts to be followed under its ‘Break the Chain’ orders. Starting Saturday, Rapid Antigen Tests are allowed for non-vaccinated
Raising concerns about the “leaks” of aspects of an ongoing investigation into incidents leading to political turmoil in Maharashtra, former chief minister and senior Congress leader Prithviraj Chavan has said the NIA is selectively leaking info on the case and it is a serious matter. &n
Maharashtra, suffering from a heavy number of fresh cases every day and complaining of vaccine shortage, has replied to the union health minister criticism and blamed the centre for the situation. “Union Health Minister Shri Harsh Vardhan ji needs to be reminded that Maharashtra tops t
Amid tighter movement restrictions as the city and the state continue to battle a consistently rising trajectory of fresh Covid-19 cases, Mumbai civic authorities on Thursday allowed 24-hour home deliveries of food and essential supplies through online service providers like Zomato and Swiggy on all days o
India recorded a new high of 1,15,736 daily Covid-19 cases with Maharashtra bearing nearly half of the load, as the state and the centre traded charges for the first time since the outbreak. State leaders sought to put part of the blame on the centre while union health minister Dr Harsh Vardhan slammed the
Anil Deshmukh is reportedly considering approaching the supreme court Tuesday to challenge a Bombay high court order that had forced him to quit as home minister of Maharashtra a day earlier. Deshmukh tendered his resignation to governor Bhagat Singh Koshyari, citing moral grounds, after the