New coronavirus variants in India: All you need to know
At least two new variants of the coronavirus SARS-CoV-2 have been detected in Maharashtra, Kerala, and Telangana, the Union Health Ministry had said on Tuesday. The Ministry has said that there is no scientific evidence to suggest the recent surge in infections in Maharashtra and Kerala is linked to these variants. Here's all you need to know about the new strains of the virus.
'2 new strains detected in other nations, too'
The Ministry confirmed the two new variants on Tuesday: N440K and E484K. "These two virus strains have been detected in other countries, too, and are not specific to India. Moreover, they have been found earlier in some states in India," ICMR Director-General Dr. Balram Bhargava told News18. Variants from United Kingdom, South Africa, and Brazil have also been detected in India.
194 in India infected with UK, South African, Brazilian variants
According to official figures, 194 people have been infected with the UK, South Africa, and Brazil strains in India. "The E484Q strain was earlier detected in four sequences in Maharashtra as early as March and July last year. The N440K mutation has been reported on 13 different occasions between May and September 2020 in Telangana, Andhra Pradesh, and Assam," Dr. Bhargava added.
'3,500 strains sequenced so far'
NITI Aayog member Dr. VK Paul said the behavior of mutated strains of the virus is being constantly and closely watched. 3,500 strains have been sequenced so far, he said. "We are looking for any abnormal shift in the virus character."
What are the UK and South African variants?
The UK or Kent variant (B.1.1.7) is said to be as much as 70% more transmissible. It may also be associated with an increased risk of death compared to other variants. More studies are required to ascertain these claims. The South African variant (501Y.V2 or B.1.351) is also said to have high transmissibility. Reportedly, younger populations are more susceptible to this variant.
Brazil variant said to be more contagious
The Brazil variant (P.1) has the E484K mutation. It first emerged in July and much like the UK and South African variants, it is said to be more contagious. It may also have the ability to evade antibodies.