ECONOMYNEXT – India has declared Delta Plus – a new strain of SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19 – a variant of concern, following the detection of over 20 cases in three states on June 22, Indian media reported.
Federal health secretary Rajesh Bhushan had told a news conference June 22 afternoon 16 samples collected in the state of Maharashtra had tested positive for the new strain in genome sequencing.
Delta Plus, also known as B.1.617.2.1, is closely related to the deadly Delta (originally ‘Indian’) strain that has been wreaking havoc in India and has also found its way to other parts of the world including neighbouring Sri Lanka.
The Indian Express reported that the decision to name Delta Plus a variant of concern comes after INSACOG, a consortium of 28 laboratories of the Health Ministry involved in genome sequencing, informed the central government on June 22 that the strain has three worrying characteristics: increased transmissibility; stronger binding in receptors of lung cells; and potential reduction in monoclonal antibody response.
Like Delta, the Delta Plus variant has mutation in the spike protein region of the RNA virus, which potentially makes it more transmissible.
A variant of concern is more transmissible, or is associated with more disease severity, or evades immunity (meaning it can infect people who have already had COVID-19 or have received a vaccine).
Genome sequencing in Sri Lanka has so far revealed five infections of Delta in Dematagoda, Colombo, with one more suspected case in Madiwela pending test results. (Colombo/June23/2021)