Public Health England has equated the novel coronavirus sub-lineage, B.1.617.2 of Indian variant or double mutant B.1.617, with the UK strain B.1.1.7 in terms of transmission rate, and found both variants equally transmissable.
B.1.617.2 is assessed as at least as transmissible as B.1.1.7 with moderate confidence. This is biologically plausible based on the mutation profile. “It can compete with B.1.1.7 in the population and modelled growth estimates, suggesting transmissibility at least equal to B.1.1.7,” the UK health agency said.
This sub-lineage was earlier declared as a ‘variant of concern’, by the public health agency.. Apart from the UK, the sub-lineage B.1.617.2 is most prevalent in Maharashtra. Altough, it has been detected in other parts of India as well.
Its presence, however, is yet to be established in Telangana and Andhra Pradesh, though the main variant, B.1.617, is present in the Telugu states. The UK variant B.1.1.7 is also found in the Telugu states to a lesser extent.
Referring to its neutralising potential against known Covid-19 vaccines, the report said as of now there is insufficient data to assess the potential for immune escape.
“B.1.617.2 has spread rapidly in India based on available data. In some regions, S gene target data sugges-ts that this variant may be more frequent than is indicated by the current sequence data, due to the lag in sequencing, and may have replaced B.1.1.7 to some extent. Modelled growth estimates suggest that the variant is at least as transmissible as B.1.1.7,” the report added.