Coronavirus pandemic: Centre classifies Delta Plus as variant of concern, issues advisory to affected states

By: |
June 23, 2021 9:15 PM

Delta Plus variant: This strain is a close relative of the Delta variant which has already wreaked havoc in India during the second wave of the coronavirus.

Owing to its infectious nature, many health experts have also said that double mutant and its descendant Delta variant may have been one of the major causes behind the ferocious second wave in the country.Owing to its infectious nature, many health experts have also said that double mutant and its descendant Delta variant may have been one of the major causes behind the ferocious second wave in the country.

Delta Plus variant: The Delta Plus variant of SARS-CoV-2 has been classified as a variant of concern by the Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, and the three states where the variant has been detected have been directed to undertake quick containment measures in clusters having the presence of the variant. A consortium of 28 laboratories of the ministry, called INSACOG, was involved in the genome sequencing and it, on Tuesday, told Centre that this coronavirus strain had three worrying aspects – one being increased transmissibility, second being the ability to bind with lung cell receptors in a stronger manner, and the last being the potential reduction in monoclonal antibody response, according to a report in IE.

This strain is a close relative of the Delta variant which has already wreaked havoc in India during the second wave of the coronavirus. This strain also has mutation in the RNA virus’ spike protein region, making it potentially more transmissible.

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On Tuesday, Union Health Secretary Rajesh Bhushan had said that the variant had been detected in as many as 22 samples across six districts of India, with 16 having been found collectively in Maharashtra’s Jalgaon and Ratnagiri, and the rest being found in two districts each of Kerala and Madhya Pradesh, the report added. However, the Centre was hoping to take a cautious approach so that this did not increase significantly, he added.

Bhushan also shared that nine other countries had detected the presence of the variant – the USA, Portugal, Japan, Switzerland, the UK, China, Russia, Nepal and Poland. If the transmissibility or the virulence of a variant is high, then it is categorised as a variant of concern, the Union Secretary shared.

The Union Ministry advised the chief secretaries of Maharashtra, Kerala as well as Madhya Pradesh to immediately work on putting containment measures in place, and also enhancing tracking, testing and vaccination in those clusters and districts where the variant has been found. The states have also been directed to send adequate samples of people who have tested positive to the labs under INSACOG promptly for further study.

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