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India designates Delta Plus a ‘Variant of Concern’; Maharashtra, Kerala, MP told to ramp up containment measures

The Centre’s warnings were based on the recent findings of INSACOG, which was dubbed the Delta Plus strain a Variant of Concern based on the following characteristics: Increased transmissibility, stronger binding to receptors of lung cells, and potential reduction in monoclonal antibody response.

June 22, 2021 / 07:52 PM IST
As of June 22 three states – Maharashtra, Kerala and Madhya Pradesh – are reporting cases of the delta plus variant. (Image: News18 Creative)

As of June 22 three states – Maharashtra, Kerala and Madhya Pradesh – are reporting cases of the delta plus variant. (Image: News18 Creative)

After the Indian SARS-CoV-2 Genomic Consortia (INSACOG) designated the Delta Plus variant of novel coronavirus (a mutation of the Delta variant) a Variant of Concern (VoC), the Union Health Ministry on June 22 advised the states of Maharashtra, Kerala, and Madhya Pradesh to immediately ramp up containment measures in districts where the variant has been found.

The INSACOG has found cases of Delta Plus COVID-19 variant in genome sequenced samples collected from the following districts of the three states: Ratnagiri and Jalgaon districts of Maharashtra, Palakkad and Pathanamthitta districts of Kerala, and Bhopal and Shivpuri districts of Madhya Pradesh.

The Centre’s warnings were based on the recent findings of INSACOG, which was dubbed the Delta Plus strain a Variant of Concern based on the following characteristics:

Increased transmissibility

Stronger binding to receptors of lung cells

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COVID-19 Vaccine

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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.

How many types of vaccines are there?

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.

What does it take to develop a vaccine of this kind?

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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Potential reduction in monoclonal antibody response

Accordingly, Maharashtra, Kerala, and Madhya Pradesh have been advised to promptly send adequate samples of positive persons to designated laboratories of INSACOG so that clinical epidemiological correlations can be made.

The Union Health Ministry has advised these three states to work with the established Public Health Response measures but make it more focused and effective.

The chief secretaries of the three states have been directed to take up immediate containment measures in the districts and clusters (as identified by INSACOG) including preventing crowds and intermingling of people, widespread testing, prompt tracing as well as vaccine coverage on a priority basis.

Follow our coverage of the coronavirus crisis here
Moneycontrol News
first published: Jun 22, 2021 07:52 pm

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