Nearly 50% of positive Covid-19 samples that were sent for genome sequencing contain the newly identified and severely infectious Indian Variant of SARS-CoV-2 called B.1.617. The majority of the samples came from Vidarbha, and no sample extracted from Mumbai, the state capital, has shown signs of the B.1.617 variant, said scientists working with INSACOG, a grouping of 10 laboratories collating and processing the whole genomic sequencing of the samples.
The Union Ministry of Health has so far not disclosed the details of the whole genome sequencing project. As of April 15, in total, 13,614 whole-genome sequencing samples were processed at the 10 INSACOG labs, as reported by The Times of India. "Of these, 1,189 samples have tested positive for variants of concerns for SARS COV 2 in India. These include 1,109 samples with UK variants; 79 samples with South African Variant and one sample with the Brazil variant," the ministry release stated. The primary concern in the state and around the world is because Indian samples have already been segregated in numerous samples in UK and US as it pertains to the high transmissibility of the Variant. "As the new variant is said to be highly infectious, we sought a report and revised guidelines, if any, from the Centre," said Rajesh Tope and informed that the government would provide a detailed report after the end of the research.
Concern About The Indian Variant
There is a prevalent concern about the Indian Variant of the virus; it has not been acknowledged yet that this Variant could be the reason for the second surge of COVID infections in India. The unique combination of the 'Indian double mutant' has created a stir and concern bordering on fear. Explaining about the Indian Variant and what makes it a unique challenge, the Independent reported, "India's B.1.617, which has been dubbed the "double mutant" variant in media reports, although it actually has 15 mutations from the original virus. This is because it carries two specific and concerning mutations in its spike protein that have cropped up elsewhere during the pandemic – known as E484Q and L452R. It is the first time that these genetic changes have evolved together in a single variant."
Specific Strategy Is A Need Of The Hour
The Indian Variant has been dubbed by some scientists from the variants previous example that it could be a variant that evades anti-bodies and highly transmissible. Efforts need to double to find the characteristics of the Variant and inform and empower states to handle it accordingly.