Recent sample collection reports from these states- Maharashtra, West Bengal, Chhattisgarh and Delhi shows two of the Triple mutation COVID-19 virus, which is more contagious and can also cause reinfection.
Second wave of the COVID-19 is getting more dangerous and India is still battling with it. The current situation of India is that it has overtaken Brazil as the second-most infected country in the world. In the middle of the second wave, a new tension has emerged around as a third mutation is found in the existing B.1.617 virus. And it got identified in 4 states, causing more despoliation.
Scientists believe the new cases that are rising globally are driven by new variants. Madhukar Pai, professor of epidemiology at McGill University said that, “This is a more transmissible variant. It is making lots of people sick very quickly”. Adding to it in an interview, he also stated that, “We have to keep tweaking vaccines. For that we need to understand the disease. But we need sequencing on war footing.”
Dr. Veena P Menon, faculty-in-charge, Clinical Virology Laboratory, Amrita Institute of Medical Sciences told IANS, “As the virus spreads, it gets more opportunities to acquire mutations and evolve at faster rate. This is a natural aspect of virus life cycle, but it is very important to track these changes and follow the important characteristics associated with these mutations”.
Mutant Strain! What exactly is it?
Like every other virus, COVID-19 keeps changing as it gets transferred to other people and it has been mutating since it all began. During the replication process, sometimes a virus undergoes some genetic mutations which are called as a variant. And the variants with visible physical characteristics are called a strain.
A triple mutant refers to variants which have three different strains that have combined together to form a new variant. In the current scenario, multiple SARS-CoV-2 variants are circulating globally and a triple mutant strain could be the next big worry for India.
Is a Mutant Strain dangerous?
These new emerging variants can be risky and be more infectious, here are some pointers that were released by CDC (Centres for Disease Control and Prevention): –
1. Transmissibility (Can spread more quickly in people): One mutation of the virus, namely D614G confers increased ability to spread more quickly than the SARS-CoV-2.
2. Potential impact on vaccination: These strains can evade the protection that immunizations are designed to generate.
3. Ability to evade detection by specific viral diagnostic tests: Most commercial reverse-transcription polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR)-based tests have multiple targets to detect the virus, such that even if a mutation impacts one of the targets, the other RT-PCR targets will still work.
What can be done now?
Two of the three variants in the triple mutation have been seen to have immune escape responses, which mean they are resistant to antibodies. Scientists believe the new variant has some ability to escape the body’s original immunity to Covid. Till then the new mutation is being identified a “variant of interest” rather than “variant of concern”.