Coronavirus Pandemic

Covid in India: Double mutant strain could be cause of massive spike in cases

Web Report/Mumbai
Filed on April 15, 2021
People waiting to get their coronavirus vaccine at a Mumbai hospital. Photo: AFP

New strain detected in samples of saliva taken from people in Delhi, Punjab and Maharashtra.

The massive spurt in Covid-19 cases in cities such as Delhi, Mumbai, Pune and Hyderabad could possibly be because of the fast-spreading Indian variant of the virus, called B.1.617 variant of SARS-CoV-2.

It carries two mutations, E484Q and L452R, which are usually found in coronavirus variants, but have been found together for the first time in India.

Double mutant strains see two mutated strains of a virus come together to form a third one. They have been found in Delhi, Maharashtra, Karnataka, Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh and West Bengal, resulting in the recent spurt in Covid-19 cases in many of these states. The B.1.617 variant has been traced across many districts in Maharashtra.

It has also been detected in the US, Germany, the UK, Australia and Singapore. The National Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) identified the double mutants in samples of saliva taken from people in Delhi, Punjab and Maharashtra.

Delhi has a mix of strains with double mutations as well as of the UK strain. In nearby Punjab, 80 per cent of those infected with the virus were found to have the British strain.

However, so far there has been no evidence of the double mutant strains being more virulent.

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