Exclusive: Why NIV Pune says there’s no need to panic over new Covid variant B.1.1.28.2? All you must know

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Updated: June 09, 2021 10:35 AM

New Covid Variant Latest: The pre-print paper says that the new Covid variant causes weight loss in those who are infected. In the backdrop of how the early reports of the Delta variant went unnoticed, it is important that the Centre and other authorities urgently follow this lead.

Coronavirus cases in India, Covid variant in India, Pune CovidA health worker checks the body temperature of a passenger as a precaution against the coronavirus, at a railway station in Mumbai. (PTI photo)

Coronavirus variant update: As India breathes a sigh of relief with daily caseload coming down below one lakh and easing lockdown, the latest news from Pune may cause some worry. In a pre-print research paper, which has been uploaded on biorxiv.org, the scholars at the Pune-based National Institute of Virology have confirmed the presence of a new variant of the coronavirus in India. Don’t panic and read all you must to know about the new Covid variant B.1.1.28.2:

What’s the name of the new variant?
As of now, the level of prevalence has not been determined. It is still known by its scientific name – B.1.1.28.2. After more studies are conducted and peer-reviewed, the final results will be submitted to the World Health Organization. It is the WHO that will name the variant, in case the need arises, based on the current system of Greek alphabets.

How was corona variant B.1.1.28.2 detected?
The research paper says that the scientists conducted the genome sequencing of the Covid swab samples collected from the travellers that arrived in India from the United Kingdom and Brazil. The ‘Syrian hamster model’ was used to assess the pathogenicity of the variant isolated from the throat and nasal swab samples.

What are the symptoms of the B.1.1.28.2 Covid variant?
The pre-print paper says that the new Covid variant causes weight loss in those who are infected. Other symptoms include lung lesions, severe viral load in the respiratory tract.

Is the new variant more severe?
Well, as of now, the research paper indicates that. The sharp increase in the ‘disease severity may add to India’s Covid worries. However, the NIV Pune study says that further research is required to understand the potential of this variant. The impact of the vaccines and any escape mechanism of the variant also needs to be researched.

Should we be worried?
Professor Priya Abraham, director of ICMR’s National Institute of Virology (NIV) Pune spoke to FE Online about the news of the new corona variant. When asked about the new variant that the research institute has found and its attributes, she told Financial Express Online that “the new variant (B.1.1.28.2 ) is not circulating and therefore it is not a public health issue.” She also said that she has been trying to tell everyone concerned too that it is not of any public health importance

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