2 min read.Updated: 21 Jun 2021, 09:47 PM ISTMeghna Sen
The new Delta plus variant has been formed due to a mutation in the Delta, or B.1.617.2, variant
Nine cases of the new variant have been found in Ratnagiri, seven in Jalgaon, two in Mumbai, one in Palghar and one each in Sindhudurg and Thane
At least 21 cases of Delta Plus, a new Covid-19 variant, have been found in samples collected from Maharashtra, while more samples have been reportedly sent for genome sequencing to understand if the variant is dominant or scattered.
The new Delta plus variant (B.1.617.2.1 or AY.1) has been detected in samples collected from few districts of Maharashtra, including Sindhudurg, Ratnagiri, Palghar and Jalgaon, according to reports.
Nine cases of the new variant have been found in Ratnagiri, seven in Jalgaon, two in Mumbai, one in Palghar and one each in Sindhudurg and Thane.
Experts in Maharashtra have already warned that the new Delta plus variant might be the reason behind the third wave of Covid-19 and could take the active caseload up to eight lakh and 10% of them could be kids.
In another similar incident, three cases of SARS-CoV-2 Delta-plus variant have been found in samples collected from two Kerala districts -- Palakkad and Pathanamthitta -- on Monday.
Pathanamthitta district collector Dr Narasimhugari TL Reddy said a four-year-old boy from Kadapra panchayat in the district was found infected with the new Delta-plus variant.
The new variant was discovered in a genetic study of the boy's samples conducted at CSIR-IGIB (Council for Scientific and Industrial Research, New Delhi).
The authorities have taken stringent measures in the affected areas of two districts to curtail its spread.
NITI Aayog member (Health) Dr VK Paul had reminded the public that the newly detected Delta Plus Variant is not yet classified as a Variant of Concern.
"The present status is that yes, a new variant has been found. This is as of now a Variant of Interest (VoI), not as yet classified a Variant of Concern (VoC). VoC is one in which we have understood that there are adverse consequences to humanity, which could be due to increased transmissibility or virulence.We do not know at this moment this about the Delta Plus variant," Dr Paul had stated.
What is the Delta Plus variant of Covid?
The new Delta plus variant has been formed due to a mutation in the Delta, or B.1.617.2, variant, first identified in India and one of the drivers of the deadly second wave.
Delta plus has a K417N mutation, alongside the earlier Delta mutation in N501Y. What has researchers concerned is that these two mutations could make the killer virus more transmissible, as well as help it evade human-made antibodies, like Casirivimab and Imdevimab, which are the mark of monoclonal antibody cocktails currently under emergency use for the treatment of Covid-19 in India.
The Maharashtra task force has said that in some EU countries, lockdown-like measures were re-introduced following a surge in cases.
Scientists in the national capital said the highly transmissible Delta variant of SARS-CoV-2 has mutated further to form the 'Delta plus', but there is no immediate cause for concern in India as its incidence in the country is still low.
The central government will analyse details such as a person's travel history, their vaccination status, whether they have been re-infected and if they got infected despite vaccination, to know more about the new Delta Plus mutant.
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