India, amidst its second wave has identified a COVID-19 triple mutation B.1.618, in Maharashtra, West Bengal and Delhi. The variant is a combination of the three different COVID-19 strains which have popped up over the globe. Reports indicate that this new mutation is significantly more transmissible.
Why are there so many variants in India?
It has been reported that less than a percent of Coronavirus cases in India undergoes Genome sequencing, a process which allows infectious disease specialists to effectively detect and assess virus mutation and new variants. Limited Genome sequencing is said to be a major factor in the delayed identification of the double mutation and may have enabled the virus surge. This virus continues to mutate and replicate as it spreads further.
Specialists feel that the nationwide and global COVID-19 spike is in relation to the triple mutation, however the exact the nature and composition of this variation has not yet been established. However, despite the vagaries with regards to the nature of this mutation, one factor which has been identified is its aggressive rate of transmission, affecting even children. As of now Indian medical authorities have labelled the mutation as a ‘variant of interest’ as opposed to a ‘variant of concern.’
What is the efficacy of current vaccines?
Multiple variants of the virus have undergone the triple mutation, with a reported 2/3 of these variants possessing an ‘immune escape response’, which means that it is far more resistant to antibodies. As of now it cannot be authoritatively ascertained if the existing vaccines prove effective against the new variants. Experts are of the opinion that the triple mutation possesses the potential for successfully evade the bodies naturally acquired immunity to the virus.