Ground Report | New Delhi: Delta Plus variant; The government of India declared the Delta Plus strain of coronavirus as a Variant of Concern (VOC) on Tuesday since India has reported new cases of Delta Plus variant from three states. The Delta Plus or AY.1 strain has been detected primarily in Maharashtra (Ratnagiri and Jalgaon) Kerala (Palakkad and Pathanamthitta) and in Madhya Pradesh (Bhopal and Shivpuri) with the Centre urging these states to take “urgent containment measures.”
The Union Health Minister Dr. Harsh Vardhan tweeted on Wednesday “The Delta Plus variant has been observed sporadically in Maharashtra, Kerala & MP with around 40 cases identified so far. These States have been advised for strengthening surveillance & public health measures.”
The viral variation (Delta B.1.617.2) was detected by INSACOG, a group of 28 labs created by the health ministry to carry out genome sequencing of the virus that caused the Covid pandemic. According to INSACOG, the number of such Delta Plus variations in India is now small, but the distribution and identification of the AY.1 or B.1.617.2.1 in various states during the past two months show that it was already prevalent in some places. And now the National Institute of Virology (NIV) and the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) are planning a study to see how effective the ‘Delta Plus’ form of Covid-19 is in patients.
What is Delta Plus?
It is a sub-lineage of the Delta variant discovered in India, and it has acquired the K417N spike protein mutation, which is also observed in the Beta variant discovered in South Africa. The strain was originally detected on June 11 in a Public Health England bulletin.
Is Delta Plus so dangerous that could lead to third wave of Coivid-19?
Based on its speed of transmission, antibody neutralization, and vaccination efficacy against the variant, a mutation is characterized as a “variant of interest” or “variant of concern.” While Govt. of India has declared Delta plus a VOC however the World Health Organization (WHO) has not classed Delta Plus as a “variant of concern” until recently, and scientists say there is insufficient data to substantiate allegations that it is a “worry.”
Although some scientists fear that the mutation, when combined with the Delta variant’s other characteristics, will make it more transmissible. However, “The mutation by itself may not cause a third wave in India – that depends on COVID-appropriate behavior as well,” Tarun Bhatnagar, a scientist with the state-run Indian Council for Medical Research, said as per a Reuter report.
How was this new mutation generated?
The mutation in the Delta or B.1.617.2 variant, initially found in India and one of the drivers of the catastrophic second wave has given rise to the new Delta plus variant. According to scientists, the B.1.617.2.1 or Delta Plus variant is defined by the acquisition of the K417N mutation. The alternation is in Sars-spike human cells, according to the researchers. As per this research, there are two types of K417N: one that is globally dispersed, and the other that is detected in genomic sequences submitted to worldwide science database.
Countries that reported Delta Plus variant so far
Apart from the United Kingdom and India, this new strain of Delta variant has been reported in 9 more countries in the world with 205 infections across Europe, North America, and Asia. These countries include Canada, Japan, Nepal, Poland, Portugal, Russia, Switzerland, Turkey, and the United States.
At present, India is recovering from the pandemic, and the Daily positivity rate reduced to 2.91%, less than 5% for 17 consecutive days. India has delivered 64.89 lakh vaccine doses in the last 24 hours, bringing the total number of vaccination doses administered to 30.16 corers and 54,069 new cases have been registered across the country. 68,885 patients recovered during the last 24 hours leading to 2, 90, 63,740 Total Recoveries across the country so far. Recovery Rate increases to 96.61%.