As the number of daily COVID-19 infections rises in India, public health experts are concerned that a new type, possibly more virulent than the coronavirus, may invade the nation of more than 1.3 billion people.
The new alternative, which contains the so-called double boom, is believed to fuel a new wave of the most deadly cases in India, making it the second hardest-hit country in the world, overtaking Brazil once again, and has already begun to beat its numbers. Hospitals and crematoriums. India has reported more than 14.5 million cases of coronavirus to date and more than 175,600 deaths.
“This is a different kind of concern that we are pursuing,” Maria Van Kerkhove, the WHO’s chief technical director on COVID, told reporters on Friday. He pointed out that “the presence of two of these mutations, which have been seen in other variants around the world, is of concern,” adding that there are similarities with mutations that increase transmission and reduce neutralization, and may dwarf the ability of vaccines. To stop it. .
The new strain confirms the virulent nature of the viruses and threatens to thwart containment efforts in India, despite measures such as the world’s largest lockdown last year. The outbreak in India threatens to roll back a hard-won victory over the pathogen to others as well, especially This strain has now jumped to at least 10 other countries.
This is what we know so far:
How did the “double boom” variable originate?
The new variant, named B.1.617, was initially detected in India with two mutations: E484Q and L452R. The disease was first reported late last year by a scientist in India and more details were provided to the WHO on Monday, according to Van Kerkhove. Viruses change all the time as part of evolutionary biology. Some mutations weaken it, while others may strengthen it, allowing it to reproduce faster or cause more infection.
India’s health ministry first recognized the existence of a “double mutant” in late March, but has since downplayed it. Although it is a variety of interest, “it has not been marked as a“ kind of anxiety ”to say it is more deadly or more contagious,” Aparna Mukherjee, a scientist with the Indian Council of Medical Research, works under the National Ministry of Health.
The double mutation is found in many countries such as Australia, Belgium, Germany, Ireland, Namibia, New Zealand, Singapore, the United Kingdom, and the United States.s, according to a statement released by the Indian government on April 16th. “A greater transmissibility has not yet been determined for this species,” he said.
Is it causing a record high number of injuries in India?
The genome sequencing indicates that the surrogate is a possible culprit, although the Indian government has not confirmed this.
The average spread of the variant increased to 52 percent of serial samples in April from almost none in January, according to the tracking website. outbreak, Which uses data from the Global GISAID Repository.
In some provinces of Maharashtra, home to Mumbai and the center of the current wave that has launched new bases similar to the blockade, the prevalence of this variant has been over 60 percent, according to Anuraj Agrawal, director of the Institute of Science and Industrial Research Council of Genomics. Agrawal said that B.
Both mutations are known to reduce, although not completely eliminate, the binding of antibodies generated by infection and vaccination, according to Jesse Bloom, associate professor of genomics and microbiology at the University of Washington.
“The mutations at the E484 and L452 sites have been seen separately, but this is the first major viral strain to combine the two,” said Bloom. “I think it is important to control this new viral variant.”
“We did the math. We think much of the increase in reproductive numbers can be explained by these mutations,” Nithia Balasubramanian, head of healthcare research in Bernstein India, told Bloomberg TV this week. “Yes, mutations are a major concern.”
After lax mapping of virus genomes in recent months (India sequenced less than one percent of positive samples until last month), the country is now struggling to cover the lost ground. “We’re trying to make at least five percent of the samples that are there,” said ICMR’s Mukherjee.
“It appears to be spreading faster than preexisting variants,” said Rakesh Mishra, director of the Hyderabad-based Center for Cell and Molecular Biology, another Indian laboratory that performs genome sequencing of COVID samples. “Sooner or later, it will prevail across the country, given the way it spreads.”
Found outside India?
This variant has been detected in at least 10 other countries, including the United States, the United Kingdom, Australia and New Zealand, according to the situation report on the outbreak.
As of April 16, 408 sequences have been detected in strain B.1.617, of which 265 have been found in India, according to the report. A British government monitoring report uncovered 77 cases in England and Scotland so far, describing them as a “variable under investigation.”
New Zealand has temporarily suspended the arrival of its citizens and residents from India due to the increase in the number of returnees infected with the Coronavirus. Brazil was also rejected as a company for the super-spread of COVID by its neighbors who were concerned about the neighboring virus strain. The second wave in India, given its size and rapid pace, will worry other countries that have almost managed to cope with the outbreak after weeks of devastating shutdowns of the economy.
Is it more deadly than the other types out there?
Researchers are still trying to find out. The properties of the double mutant variant are under investigation, but the L452R mutation is well characterized in US studies, according to Agrawal. He said it increases virus transmission by about 20 percent and reduces the effectiveness of antibodies by more than 50 percent.
Globally, three variants that have emerged so far in the United Kingdom, South Africa and Brazil are causing particular concern. Studies show that it is more contagious and some evidence suggests that one is more deadly while the other causes reinfection.
This double mutant strain, which was first found in India, has begun to alarm virologists around the world.
William A. Hasseltin, former professor at Harvard Medical School in Forbes April 12. We must do everything in our power to determine its spread and contain it. “
Do vaccines work against you?
It is difficult to know for sure without the correct data and research. India is testing whether the new variants, including B.1.617, are able to “escape immunity or not,” according to ICMR’s Mukherjee.
Immune escape refers to the ability of a pathogen to evade the immune response of a human body. This means that the antibodies formed after a vaccination or a previous infection may not protect a person from infection. If the new Indian variant exhibits “immune escape” behavior, that will have profound implications for the Indian vaccination program, which has recovered after a slow start and delivered nearly 120 million doses so far.
India has currently licensed three vaccines. Two of them are already in use, while the third, the Russian Sputnik V, was approved this week. India also rushed to approve foreign vaccines this week. All of these efforts run the risk of being jeopardized if the injection proves to be less effective against this double mutation variant.
“It’s one of the variants on our radar, and by doing that, it means it’s on people’s radar all over the world,” Van Kerkhove said.
With assistance from Chris Kay, Monisa Naqvi, Obmanio Trivedi, Jason Gill and Janet Rodriguez.