The Union Health Ministry has said that strains of the Covid virus in India with “double mutations” have been found in patients in 10 states and this could be responsible for rising infections and a faster spread in these states.
Besides Maharashtra, Delhi, West Bengal, Gujarat, Karnataka and Madhya Pradesh are among the states where double mutant strains were found, sources said, adding that these mutants are playing a role in the rapid rise in COVID-19 cases. Delhi has also identified cases of the mutant strain. However, it cannot be said that double mutants are 100 per cent responsible for the rise in cases, sources in the ministry said. A double mutation occurs when two mutated strains of a virus come together to form a third strain. The one reported in India is the result of the E484Q and L452R strains combining while L452R strain is found in California in the United States and the E484Q strain is indigenous. The data on double mutations and the rising trend were detected after nearly 14,0000 samples were subjected to genome sequencing, a testing process to understand the complete genetics of an organism, officials said.
Officials are also analysing the role of the double mutant’s role in Covid-linked deaths, the severity of infections, preliminary infection, reinfection, its effects on vaccination. In Punjab, the British strain was found in 80 per cent of people with Covid. Around 60 per cent of the cases in Maharashtra have the double mutant strain, although capital Mumbai hasn’t reported this.