As several nations, including India, struggle to contain a second wave of the coronavirus with several new strains emerging, the Union Health Ministry said on Wednesday that a double mutant variant of COVID-19 has been detected and found in samples from Nagpur in Maharashtra. The Union Health Ministry said that while such mutations confer immune escape and increase infectivity, correlating them with the recent surge in COVID cases is not possible.
Nagpur district on Wednesday reported 3,717 new coronavirus cases, its highest single-day figure so far since the outbreak of the pandemic last year, the authorities said.
National Centre for Disease Control’s director Dr Sujeet Kumar said, “Now when we link we have to see from where the samples have been picked. This is very relevant. In Nagpur, yes, we have found a substantial number of this, around 20 per cent. But correlating the surge with this 20 per cent is not possible.”
Government data showed the double mutant strain has also been found in two samples from Punjab, one sample from Ladakh and Jammu each, three samples from Gujarat and one sample from Odisha, besides Delhi.
“Double mutant is evolving. We have seen this double mutant E484Q and L452R. This is the double mutant which has been observed in 206 samples in Maharashtra and then in a varied number in Delhi, nine samples, and so on,” Singh was quoted as saying by Hindustan Times.
Genomic variants of various viruses are a natural phenomenon and are found in almost all countries, the ministry said, adding 771 variants of concerns (VOCs) have been detected in a total of 10,787 positive samples shared by states and UTs (union territories).
“These include 736 samples positive for viruses of the UK (B.1.1.7) lineage. Also,34 samples were found positive for viruses of the South African (B.1.351) lineage. One sample was found positive for viruses of the Brazilian (P.1) lineage. The samples with these VOCs have been identified in 18 states of the country,” the ministry said.