The new double mutant variant was discovered by the Indian SARS-CoV-2 Consortium on Genomics (INSACOG) which has been carrying out genome sequencing on domestic samples and samples from international travellers.
Here is what we know so far:
* Compared to December 2020, Maharashtra has reported an increase in the fraction of samples with the E4840 and L452R mutations.
* Such mutations confer immune escape and increased infectivity.
* These mutations have been found in about 15-20 per cent of samples and do not match any previously catalogued VOCs.
* While the two mutations have been categorized as VOCs but require implementation of existing protocols of “increased testing, comprehensive tracking and prompt isolation as well as treatment.”
* The VOCs found in India as well as the new double mutant variant is not seen as the reason behind the rapid increase in Covid-19 cases in some states.
* The ministry said that these variants have not been detected in numbers sufficient to establish a direct relationship with the surge in cases in India.
* Genomic sequencing and epidemiological studies are continuing to further analyze the situation.
What are the other Covid-19 variants found in India
INSACOG has been carrying out genomic sequencing of circulating Covid-19 viruses and correlating epidemiological trends with genomic variants. As per INSACOG:
* As many as 771 VOCs have been detected in a total of 10,787 positive samples shared by the states/UTs across India.
* Among the Covid-19 variants found in India, 736 samples have tested positive for viruses of the UK (B.1.1.7) lineage, making it the most widespread variant in the country.
* 34 samples have tested positive for the South African (B.1.351) lineage while one sample was found positive for viruses of the Brazilian (P.1) lineage.
* The samples of the UK, South African and Brazilian VOCs have been identified in 18 states of the country.