The second wave of Covid-19 in India has resulted in an acute shortage of hospital beds, availability of oxygen, essential medicines, and vaccines. Public health officials are now concerned that a new and potentially more virulent coronavirus strain is spreading through the country’s crowded population.
The latest strain highlights the destructive existence of viruses and threatens to undermine India’s containment efforts, amid steps such as the world’s largest lockdown last year. An exploding outbreak in India threatens to undo a hard-won victory over the pathogen for others as well, particularly because this strain has now spread to at least ten other countries.
Dr. Prasanta Acharjee, ENT Specialist, Sanjeevani ENT And Head And Neck Specialist, in an exclusive interaction with HealthWire, has explained all that you need to know about the double mutant variant.
What is a double mutant variant?
Viruses evolve as they spread through vast areas. A virus mutation causes it to behave like a changed or even separate species while retaining its core genetic characteristics. A unique mutation was discovered in Maharashtra, the worst-affected state by the Covid-19 pandemic in January.
The mutation was discovered to be identical to mutations previously discovered in the United Kingdom, South Africa, and California in the United States. The distinction was that the Indian form had two mutations at the same time, one mimicking British and South African variants and the other mimicking the Californian variant.
Is double mutant variant fueling the second wave of COVID-19?
Yes, the double mutant strain is thought to be the reason for the recent exploding outbreak in India which resulted in the undoing of hard-won victory over the pathogen by the last year’s lockdown.
However, in the absence of sufficient evidence, it is difficult to say if the relaxation and lapses in Covid-19 safety protocol with the older strain of SARS-CoV-2 caused the second wave of the coronavirus pandemic or the virus’s double mutant form.
How it is different from normal coronavirus?
The new variant is more infectious and lethal. The new variant B.1.617 with its two mutation – The E 484Q and L 452R reported is present in around 52% samples in Maharashtra and also reported in samples in 10 other states.
Does it develop in India with time or came from outside India?
The UK and Brazil have discovered evidence that suggests the double mutant form of SARS-CoV-2 is to blame for a new wave of Covid-19 pandemic in these countries.
According to an April 16 announcement from the Indian government, the double mutation has been discovered in Australia, Belgium, Germany, Ireland, Namibia, New Zealand, Singapore, the United Kingdom, and the United States.
Do vaccines work against double mutant?
Whether the existing vaccines will protect from this variant or not is still under research now. Current vaccines are capable of minimising severe Covid-19 risks, the need for hospitalisation, and mortality. Vaccines remain the best protection against Covid-19, experts claim.