Officials said there was no evidence to link the current surge in some states to these strains
NEW DELHI: A total of 771 Covid variants, including a “double mutant”, have been found across 18 Indian states but there is no evidence to link the current surge in some states to these strains, officials said on Wednesday.
States witnessing higher cases have revealed a different mutation profile but detected variants have been prevalent in the community for last six to eight months, National Centre for Disease Control director Sujeet Kumar Singh said.
The double mutations — which confer immune escape (ability to evade antibodies) and increased infectivity — have been found in about 15-20% of samples and do not match any previously catalogued variants. “We’ve seen this double mutant E484Q and L452R. This is the double mutant that has been observed in 206 samples in Maharashtra and then in a varied number in Delhi (nine samples) and so on,” Singh said, adding, “In Nagpur, we have found a substantial number of this, around 20%. But correlating the surge with this 20% is not possible.”
In 10,787 positive samples shared by states and UTs so far, 771 variants of concern have been detected. These include 736 samples positive for viruses of the UK lineage, 34 for those of the South African lineage, and one of Brazilian origin. In samples from Maharashtra, there has been an increase in the fraction of samples with the E484Q and L452R mutations compared to December 2020.
The Centre said while genomic sequencing has increased “exponentially”, it will be increased further.