A new ‘double mutant’ coronavirus variant has been detected in India. The new muted virus has been detectd by Indian SARS-CoV-2 Consortium on Genomics (INSACOG), a network of 10 Indian labs dedicated to conducting genomic sequencing and analysis of circulating Covid-19 viruses. This new ‘double mutant’ not seen anywhere else in the world.
INSACOG has found the presence of two mutations, E484Q and L452R together, in at least 200 virus samples from Maharashtra, as well as a handful in Delhi, Punjab and Gujarat.
“The analysis of samples from Maharashtra has revealed that compared to December 2020, there has been an increase in the fraction of samples with the E484Q and L452R mutations. Such mutations confer immune escape and increased infectivity. These mutations have been found in about 15-20 percent of samples and do not match any previously catalogued VOCs [variants of concern],” the Health Ministry said in a statement.
The network has so far detected 771 variants of concern in a total of 10787 positive samples shared by states and UTs. These include 736 samples positive for viruses of the UK (B.1.1.7) lineage; 34 samples were found positive for viruses of the South African (B.1.351) lineage; and one sample was found positive for viruses of the Brazilian (P.1) lineage. The samples with these VOCs have been identified in 18 states of the country, the health ministry said.