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The double mutant Covid variant -- called B1617 -- is said to be fuelling India's second wave of Covid-19, which is deadlier than the previous wave. The new variant contains mutations from two separate virus variants, namely E484Q and L452R. The E484Q mutation is also found in both UK and South African variants, the L452R mutation in the California strain. According to experts, these two mutations appear to make the new variant more infectious as well as enable it to easily surpass immune defences. The double mutant Covid variant was first detected in India on December 1, 2020. Now, it has spread to at least 17 countries, the World Health Organization (WHO) said in its weekly epidemiological update on the pandemic.
As recorded till April 27, the B1617 variant had been detected in over 1,200 sequences uploaded on the open-access database GISAID (the Global Initiative on Sharing Avian Influenza Data) from at least 17 countries. Most sequences were uploaded from India, the UK, US and Singapore, the global health agency said on Tuesday.
Two days back, Greece confirmed its first case of 'double mutant' strain infection. According to a statement from the country's national public health organisation (NPHO, the positive sample of strain B.1.617 was collected from a male inhabitant of Patras in Western Greece. Surprisingly, the man had no travel history or even contact with any confirmed case of India's 'double mutant' variant as revealed by the preliminary investigation.
Japan has also confirmed more than 20 cases of the Indian variant of COVID-19. According to a government's top spokesman, a total of 21 cases had been confirmed in the country (as of Monday), of which 20 were found in airport quarantine and one was confirmed among domestic cases, reported Japan Times.
Out of the nearly 5.7 million new cases reported in the last week worldwide, India accounted for 38 per cent, the WHO update said. India recorded more than 3 lakh corona cases for the seventh consecutive day on Wednesday. According to the union health ministry's data released on Wednesday morning, India registered a record number of 3,60,960 cases and 3,293 deaths in the last 24 hours.
According to the WHO update, the B1617 variant has a higher growth rate than other circulating variants in India, suggesting higher transmissibility rate. Apart from this new variant, the organisation underscored challenges around the implementation and adherence to public health and social measures and social gatherings as other drivers for the massive rise in Covid-19 cases in India. While the WHO has classified the British, South African and Brazilian variants of Covid-19 as "variants of concern", it considers India's double mutant Covid variant a 'variant of interest'.
With inputs from agencies
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