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Coronavirus | Double mutant strain found in 10 states, likely reason behind recent surge: Report

Maharashtra, West Bengal, Gujarat, Karnataka and Madhya Pradesh are among the states where double mutant strains were found.

April 15, 2021 / 02:26 PM IST
Image Source: Reuters

Image Source: Reuters

Double mutant COVID-19 strain has been found in 10 states so far and could be the reason behind the surging cases. India, on April 15, hit a record daily high of 2,00,739 new COVID-19 cases.

"Maharashtra, West Bengal, Gujarat, Karnataka and Madhya Pradesh are among the states where double mutant strains were found," NDTV reported citing sources.

These mutants are playing a role in the rapid rise in COVID-19 cases, the report said, adding that Delhi has also identified cases of the mutant strain.

Explained | Double mutation -- how was it identified and how dangerous is it?

It cannot be said that double mutants are 100 percent responsible for the rise in cases, the report added.

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How does a vaccine work?

A vaccine works by mimicking a natural infection. A vaccine not only induces immune response to protect people from any future COVID-19 infection, but also helps quickly build herd immunity to put an end to the pandemic. Herd immunity occurs when a sufficient percentage of a population becomes immune to a disease, making the spread of disease from person to person unlikely. The good news is that SARS-CoV-2 virus has been fairly stable, which increases the viability of a vaccine.

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There are broadly four types of vaccine — one, a vaccine based on the whole virus (this could be either inactivated, or an attenuated [weakened] virus vaccine); two, a non-replicating viral vector vaccine that uses a benign virus as vector that carries the antigen of SARS-CoV; three, nucleic-acid vaccines that have genetic material like DNA and RNA of antigens like spike protein given to a person, helping human cells decode genetic material and produce the vaccine; and four, protein subunit vaccine wherein the recombinant proteins of SARS-COV-2 along with an adjuvant (booster) is given as a vaccine.

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Vaccine development is a long, complex process. Unlike drugs that are given to people with a diseased, vaccines are given to healthy people and also vulnerable sections such as children, pregnant women and the elderly. So rigorous tests are compulsory. History says that the fastest time it took to develop a vaccine is five years, but it usually takes double or sometimes triple that time.

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A "double mutation" is when two mutated strains of a virus come together to form a third strain. The one reported in India is the result of the combination of E484Q and L452R strains.

Delhi has a mix of the UK strain of the virus as well strains with double mutations, while Punjab found British strain in 80 percent of people with COVID-19, the report said.

Read: 'Double mutant' in 61% of samples tested in Maharashtra, official says likely behind second wave

Around 19 states, or 70 to 80 districts in the country, have reported UK strain of the coronavirus, sources added.

Meanwhile, 'double mutant' of coronavirus was detected in 61 percent of COVID-19 samples of Maharashtra sent to the National Institute of Virology (NIV), Pune, between January and March.

Read: Here's what three experts have to say about COVID-19 variants, and what can keep us safe

The Union health ministry had, on March 24, flagged the presence of a double mutant variant and 771 'variants of concern (VOCs)' in 18 Indian states. The double mutant was then detected in "15-20 percent of the samples" from Maharashtra.

Out of the 771 VOCs, 736 samples were positive for viruses of the UK (B.1.1.7) lineage, and 34 were found positive for viruses of the South African (B.1.351) lineage and one was found positive for viruses of the Brazilian (P.1.) lineage.

Meanwhile, the number of new coronavirus cases in India hit a record daily high with over 2 lakh infections being reported in a day, while the active cases surpassed the 14- lakh mark, according to the Union Health Ministry data, updated on April 15.
Moneycontrol News
first published: Apr 15, 2021 02:26 pm

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