Govt releases scary COVID-19 report, new coronavirus strain found in 18 states

Ajeyo Basu

LAST UPDATED: March 24, 2021, 4:46 p.m.

New Delhi: The Central Government said that a new double-stranded strain of SARS-CoV-2 or coronavirus has been found in India. Issuing a press note, the Center said that a total of 771 COVID-19 variants (VOCs) have been detected so far in the country out of a total of 10,787 positive samples shared by states and union territories.

The press release states that they contain 736 positive samples of the virus from the UK (B.1.1.7). There are 34 samples for virus from South African (B.1.351), 1 sample positive for virus from Brazil (P.1). Samples for these COVID-19 variants (VOCs) have been identified in 18 states of the country.

The government stated that genomic variants of various viruses are a natural occurrence and are found in almost all countries around the world. The samples that were used for genome sequencing and analysis were taken from international travelers who were found to be COVID-19 variants positive across the country.

Analysis of samples from Maharashtra showed that the fraction of samples with E484Q and L452R mutations increased compared to December 2020. Such mutations increase immunity and increase infectivity. These mutations have been found in about 15–20 percent of samples and do not match the previously listed variants.

From Kerala, 2,032 samples (from all 14 districts) were examined. The N440K variant has been found in 123 samples from 11 districts. This variant was earlier found in 33 percent of samples from Andhra Pradesh and 53 out of 104 samples in Telangana. This version has also been found from 16 other countries including the UK, Denmark, Singapore, Japan and Australia.

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The government said that new double-changed strains have been detected in the country, which so far have not been found in sufficient numbers to establish a link with the surge in COVID-19 cases in many states.

“The analysis of the situation continues with genomic sequencing and epidemiological studies,” Sarkar said.

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