A new type of “double mutation” of the Coronavirus has been identified in samples collected in India.
Authorities in that country are checking whether the alternative could be more contagious or if the vaccines would be less effective for it.
In about 10,787 specimens from 18 states of the United States India Also 771 cases of known variants were found: 736 from the United Kingdom, 34 from South Africa and one from Brazil.
Officials note that the variables are not associated with an increase in cases in India.
India recorded 47,262 cases and 275 deaths on Wednesday, the largest daily increase this year.
The Indian Genome Consortium SARS-CoV-2 (INSACOG), a group of 10 national laboratories under the Ministry of Health, performed the genetic sequencing of the latest samples.
Genetic sequencing is the process of analyzing the entire genetic code of an organism, the virus in this case.
The virus’s genetic code works Your instruction manual.
Mutations in viruses are common, but most are insignificant and do not cause any change in their ability to transmit or cause serious infection.
But some mutations, such as those in the United Kingdom or the variants in South Africa, can make the virus more contagious and, in some cases, more deadly.
Virologist Shahid Jamil explains, “A double mutation in key regions of the virus’s spike protein It can increase your risk Allow the virus to escape from the immune system. “
Spike protein is the part that the virus uses to penetrate human cells.
The Indian government indicated that an analysis of samples collected in the western state of Maharashtra showed an “increase in the fraction of samples with E484Q and L452R mutations” compared to December of last year.
These are mutations [dobles] “They give more immune escape and infection,” the Ministry of Health said in a statement.
Dr Jamil added, “There may be a separate strain evolving in India with the combination of L452R and E484Q mutations.”
They are viruses With a double boom Worry?
Smitha Mendesad, BBC Health reporter
The “mutant double virus” appears alarming. The words indicate that Indian scientists have discovered two mutations or important changes at different sites in one type of virus.
This is not surprising. Viruses change all the time, but the questions that need to be answered are: Does the presence of this double mutation change the way the virus behaves? Will this variant be more contagious now or will it cause more serious disease?
and, most importantly , Will the current vaccines against it continue to work well?
Scientists will now be busy with the work of the laboratory necessary to find the answers.
Officials say that given the low percentage of tests recorded with this twin boom, there is currently no indication that this is causing the current increase in cases in the country.
What is clear is that this double mutation, as it may appear different, requires the same general health response.
Increased testing, close contact tracing and rapid isolation of cases, in addition to face masks and social distancing, will help.
Reducing pressure on India’s overburdened healthcare system is essential.
In terms of vaccines, so far, for the many variants of concern around the world, they have been shown to be effective, although they are sometimes inferior to the original viruses they were designed against.
Scientists are confident that, if needed, existing vaccines can be modified to target new mutations.
The Indian government denies that the increase in cases is related to the mutations.
“Although there are worrisome variants and a new double mutant variant in India, they have not been discovered in sufficient numbers to establish a direct relationship with the rapid increase in cases in some states,” the Ministry of Health said.
This comes after several experts called on the government to step up genome sequencing efforts.
Dr. Jamil told the BBC earlier this month, “We need constant monitoring and make sure that none of the variables causing anxiety are spreading among the population.”
“Just because it’s not happening now doesn’t mean it won’t happen in the future. We have to make sure we get the evidence early enough.”
India is the fifth country in the world to implement genome sequencing of the new Coronavirus, after it was isolated from some of the first cases recorded in the country in January of last year.
More than 11.7 million cases and 160,000 deaths later, efforts continue around the world Identifying mutations.
The latest increase in cases in India, which began this month, comes in what some experts call a “sensitive phase” for the country: the healthcare system is already exhausted from a year-long battle against the coronavirus.
The country’s states have already begun to reimpose restrictions, including curfews and intermittent closures.
Two major cities, New Delhi and Mumbai, have also requested randomized rapid tests at airports, train stations and crowded areas such as shopping malls.
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