India Covid crisis: New mutant variant worrying analysts; said to be 15 times more infectious

Hyderabad - The variant was discovered by the Centre for Cellular and Molecular Biology, Hyderabad.

By Web Report

Published: Tue 4 May 2021, 12:09 PM

A new coronavirus variant, the N440K, which is said to be stronger than two other Indian variants B1.617 and B1.618, and which has triggered off infections in Andhra Pradesh, is worrying analysts. The variant was discovered by the Centre for Cellular and Molecular Biology, Hyderabad.

According to media reports in the state, the variant is creating havoc in Visakhapatnam and other parts of the state. It was first discovered in Kurnool and is claimed to be 15 times more virulent than other variants.

“We are still to ascertain, which strain is in circulation right now, as samples have been sent to CCMB for analysis,” V. Vinay Chand, district collector, Visakhapatnam, told the media. “But one thing is certain that the variant at present which is in circulation in Visakhapatnam is quite different from what we have seen during the first wave last year.”

The new variant has a shorter incubation period and the spread is much more rapid, according to P.V. Sudhakar, the district’s special Covid officer. “In earlier cases, a patient affected with the virus would take at least a week to reach the hypoxia or dyspnea stage,” he said. “But in the present context, patients are reaching the serious condition stage within three or four days. And that is why there is heavy pressure on beds with oxygen or ICU beds.”

According to Sudhakar, the new variant is also affecting the younger population including those with high immunity levels. “It is also observed that cytokine storm is occurring faster, and some are responding to treatment and some are not,” he added.

But a senior CCMB advisor underplayed the threats and said there was no need for people to panic about the N440K variant. Rakesh Mishra, the CCMB advisor, told a newspaper that the sample, found in 20 to 30 per cent of samples in Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Karnataka, Maharashtra and Tamil Nadu “will fade away in the coming weeks.”

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