South African, Brazilian COVID-19 variants detected in India: Government
Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) Director-General Dr. Balram Bhargava on Tuesday said that four COVID-19 cases involving the South African variant of the virus have been detected in India. Further, one case involving the Brazilian variant has also been detected. Earlier, infections involving the mutated United Kingdom strain detected in India had caused panic as the strain was said to be more infectious.
All patients with new strain of COVID-19, their contacts quarantined
Speaking during a COVID-19 media briefing on Tuesday, Dr. Bhargava said that all patients with the South African and Brazilian COVID-19 variant have been quarantined along with their contacts. "ICMR-NIV is attempting to isolate and culture the South African variant of SARS-CoV-2, while the Brazil variant of SARS-CoV-2 has been isolated and cultured at ICMR-NIV-Pune," he said.
South African variant has spread to 44 countries
The South African variant has already spread to 44 countries and the four cases detected in India had come from Angola (one case), Tanzania (one), and South Africa (two), Dr. Bhargava said. Meanwhile, the Brazilian variant has been reported in 15 countries, he said, adding that India's lone case involving this variant was detected this month.
Experiments underway to assess vaccine effectiveness against new strains
The ICMR chief also said that experiments are underway to assess the effectiveness of existing COVID-19 vaccines against the new variants. India had launched its vaccination drive on January 16 with two vaccines—Covishield and COVAXIN. India has vaccinated over 87.4 lakh health and frontline workers.
187 cases of UK variant confirmed in India
Dr. Bhargava also said that 187 cases involving the UK variant have been detected in India so far. There have been no mortalities among such cases, he added. "All confirmed cases are quarantined and treated. Their contacts have been isolated and tested. Neutralization potential with the UK variant of the virus is there with the vaccine that we have," the ICMR chief said.
How bad is the outbreak in India?
As of Tuesday morning, India had reported a total of 10,925,710 COVID-19 infections, including 1,55,813 deaths, 1,36,872 active cases, and 1,06,33,025 recoveries. The government has expressed concern over the COVID-19 situation in Kerala and Maharashtra. "Kerala and Maharashtra with 61,550 and 37,383 active cases respectively account for 72% of the total active cases in the country," Union Health Secretary Rajesh Bhushan said.