Across India, the number of cases involving the established UK, South Africa and Brazil variants of SARS-CoV-2, the Covid-causing coronavirus, is respectively, 736, 34 and 1. The mutations of concern are mainly of six types and 800-900 samples have tested positive for them. “So far, no linkage has been seen between the surge in Covid cases and foreign travellers,” INSACOG has stated, adding further that the coronavirus variants detected in the community have been prevalent for six to eight months.
Mutations are not uncommon in viruses, but it will be important to see whether the new mutations are significant enough to allow the virus to escape immune mechanisms and potentially effect vaccine efficacy, say experts. Dr Sujeet Kumar Singh, director, National Centre for Disease Control, said the available tests can detect Covid caused by all variants. The treatment also remains the same, he said.
In Delhi, Lok Nayak Hospital has treated the maximum individual with variant-caused Covid. Dr Suresh Kumar, medical director of the hospital, said that most patients were asymptomatic or showed mild symptoms. “We have treated 28 patients suffering from the UK variant and one patient for the South Africa variant. Most of them had a history of foreign travel. They were kept in isolation until tests confirmed they were negative for the viral infection,” said Kumar, adding that only three patients required oxygen support.
Singh stressed on the need to follow Covid-appropriate behaviour to prevent the resurgence from turning into another crisis. Delhi has seen over a thousand new cases of Covid in the last three days after nearly three months. The situation in Maharashtra, Punjab and Gujarat is even more alarming. These states have also reported the presence of mutated variants of SARS-CoV-2.