A few cases of the more infectious South African and Brazilian strains of the coronavirus have been detected in India and all are travellers, the Indian government said on Tuesday.
The South African strain of the coronavirus has been detected in four people in India and the Brazil variant has been seen in one, according to India's top medical body Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR), reports the NDTV.
All five have been quarantined.
"ICMR-NIV is attempting to isolate and culture the South African variant of SARS-CoV-2, while the Brazil variant of SAS-CoV-2 has been isolated and cultured at ICMR-NIV-Pune," ICMR Director General Balram Bhargava told reporters at the health ministry briefing on Covid.
There are 187 cases of the UK strain, Dr Bhargava said.
All their contacts have been isolated and tested.
According to the ICMR chief, existing vaccines have the potential to neutralise the UK variant and experiments are on to assess the effectiveness of the vaccines against the South African and Brazilian variants.
The South African variant is circulating in 41 countries around the world, including the US.
The four people who have tested positive for the strain in India are from Angola, Tanzania and South Africa.
The UK variant has spread to 82 countries and the Brazilian strain of Covid has spread to nine countries.
The cases have emerged at a time there has been a sharp drop in the number of Covid cases in India, with just a few states like Maharashtra and Kerala battling a spike.
According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), the new strains are more contagious and spread faster, and vaccines could be less effective on these patients, although there is no proof.
All three strains have gone through changes to their spike protein, or the part of the virus which attaches to human cells, and they seem to be better at infecting cells, according to scientists.