No evidence so far to link surge in Covid cases to new variants: ICMR

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NEW DELHI: Even as some states witness a sudden spike in Covid cases, the scientific evidence so far does not suggest any link between new variants of coronavirus detected in the country and the rise in cases, the ICMR said.
The comments come in the wake of concerns that the spike in Maharashtra and some other states could be because of new strains seen to be harder to control with higher transmissibility.
India has detected two new variants of the virus — N440 K and E484Q — in Maharashtra and Kerala and these are being monitored and studied closely. India has so far sequenced a total of 3,500 variants and 187 individuals were detected with the UK strain, six with the South African strain, and one had the Brazilian strain.
However, Niti Aayog member (health) V K Paul said that “this is a work in progress” and that authorities will continue to watch the situation “with full responsibility”.
The government said the mutants were being tracked through genome sequencing and advised strict adherence to Covid-appropriate behaviour as majority of the population, particularly in smaller cities and districts, remains vulnerable.
Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) director general Balram Bhargava said the two new strains have been detected in other countries too and are not specific to India. Moreover, they have been found earlier in some states in India as well. E484Q was earlier detected in four sequences in Maharashtra as early as March and July 2020. The N440K has been reported on 13 different occasions between May and September 2020 in Telangana, Andhra and Assam.
Meanwhile, the Centre has also deputed specialised teams to states including Maharashtra, Kerala, Punjab, Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh and Jammu & Kashmir to assess the reason for increasing daily new cases.

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