The highly transmissible Delta variant of Sars-CoV-2 has mutated further to form the 'Delta Plus' or 'AY.1' variant, the scientists in India have said. They added that there is no immediate cause for concern in India as its incidence in the country is still low.
The already deadly Delta variant led the second wave of the Covid-19 pandemic, and even scuttled UK PM Boris Johnson's plan to open the country from June 21. That date was pushed to July 19 on Monday due to high dominance of the Delta variant in cases being reported in the country.
The newly-mutated 'Delta Plus' variant is resistant to the monoclonal antibody cocktail treatment for Covid-19 recently authorised in India, the scientists said.
Here is everything you need to know about the Delta Plus variant of the coronavirus disease:
- The B.1.617.2.1 variant characterised by the acquisition of K417N mutation, according to scientists. The mutation is in the spike protein of Sars-CoV-2, which helps the virus enter and infect the human cells, they said.
- The latest research shows that there are two groups of K417N - one of them is internationally distributed and the other one is found on the genome sequences uploaded to global science initiative GISAID by the United States.
- By June 7, 63 genomes of 'Delta Plus' variant have been identified on GISAID from Canada, Germany, Russia, Nepal, Switzerland, India, Poland, Portugal, Japan and the US. There are 36 cases of the new variant in the UK and it makes up 6% of all cases in the US.
- The earliest sequence of this genome was found in Europe in late March this year.
- Allaying fears, immunologist Vineeta Bal said on Monday that there may be some setback in the use of commercial antibody cocktail due to the new variant, but resistance to monoclonal antibody cocktail treatment is not an indication of higher virulence or severity of a disease.
- Hawaii said on Monday that a vaccinated Oahu resident who travelled to Nevada last month tested positive for the delta variant of Covid-19.
- In its latest report on coronavirus variants, updated till last Friday, the health agency said Delta Plus was present in six genomes from India as of June 7.
- The Maharashtra government has sent a substantial number of samples from various districts for genome sequencing to verify if any new mutation of Sars-CoV-2 has taken place. The reports are expected to come by Tuesday.