The CENTER said on Tuesday that two new strains of Covid-19 have been detected in three states – Maharashtra, Kerala and Telangana – but there is no scientific evidence to suggest that the recent outbreak reported by the first two states is linked to these. variants. This is in addition to the three other strains – from the UK, South Africa and Brazil – previously reported.
Responding to Wipro founder Azim Premji’s suggestion to engage private actors to speed up vaccination against Covid-19, the Center said private hospitals would be “used in large numbers” in the group’s next phase of vaccination priority 27 crore, which is expected to begin in March.
Addressing the weekly briefing, NITI Aayog member Dr VK Paul said the Indian SARS-CoV-2 (INSACOG) genomic consortia have detected two variants – N440K and E484K. “We are also looking for any changes or abnormal changes in the character of the virus … There are two variants in Maharashtra that have been detected: the N440K and E484K variants … The E484K variant has also been found in Kerala and Telangana,” he said. he declares.
E484K is commonly referred to as an escape mutation because it helps the virus escape the body’s immune response; N440K is associated with a higher binding affinity with human receptors and linked to a faster transmission capacity.
“INSACOG performs comprehensive monitoring of viral strains. The effort accelerated and we sequenced 3,500 samples. We detected a British strain in 187 individuals through this process; in six people, we detected a South African variant; and in one case we detected a Brazilian variant, ”he said.
Precaution is the key
While five variants of Covid-19 have been detected so far, there is no evidence to suggest that these new strains are responsible for the upsurge reported in states like Maharashtra. Surveillance and containment measures, as well as appropriate behavior at Covid remain essential.
Paul, however, stressed that the surge in Covid-19 cases in Maharashtra and Kerala cannot be attributed to the mutant strains. “Today, based on the information we have, these five variants are present. But there is no reason for us to believe, based on scientific evidence, that these are responsible for the resurgence of the epidemic that you are seeing in some districts of Maharashtra and Kerala. We are constantly monitoring the behavior of mutations, ”said Paul.
“Reporting only the detection does not lead to any attribution for any phenomenon in the field. Because in order to relate the occurrence of a virus to change and disease pattern, other epidemiological and clinical information must be related to these mutations … you attribute its effect only when you relate it to transmissibility or mortality or to any unusual behavior, ”said Paul.
Paul said both variants were detected even before INSACOG was created. “E484K was detected between March and July. However, there has been no effect… we are systematically looking for scientific evidence that makes any attribution possible, ”he said.
Paul said the surge in reported cases in Maharashtra, Kerala, Punjab, Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh and Jammu and Kashmir was a “wake-up call”. “We are still vulnerable… There is a lot about the virus and the epidemiology that we don’t know. Therefore, we can see that even where a high intensity pandemic has taken place in a city like Pune, the resurgence of cases is occurring. We have to remember that other cities are vulnerable, where the seroprevalence is even lower… this is a reality check and a wake-up call for us, ”he said.
Union Secretary of Health Rajesh Bhushan said teams of experts sent to the six states and the Union’s territory will brief the Chief Secretaries and Secretaries of Health on action to be taken. “The central team of public health experts and epidemiologists will find the reason for this surge. Is Covid-19 behavior inappropriate? Is it due to a very diffuse event? The teams will find out the exact reason, ”he said.
Responding to the suggestion of a greater role for private actors in the Covid-19 vaccination program, Bhushan said, “The private sector is deeply engaged in various government programs. In Ayushman Bharat, 11,000 private hospitals are set up. Likewise, at CGHS, more than 800 private sector hospitals are involved. With regard to vaccination, in the first phase, around 10,000 hospitals are used, of which 2,000 are in the private sector. The central government recognizes and uses the force multiplier role of the private sector. In the coming days, private sector hospitals will be used in large numbers to further increase the rate and coverage of immunization ”.
“For now, this push cannot be linked to the variants. However, the correct use of masks and the appropriate behavior of Covid-19 must continue. We must avoid mass gatherings, ”said Dr Balram Bhargava, CEO, ICMR.
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