4/29/2021 4:20:59 PM
A new "double mutant" variant of the coronavirus has been detected from samples collected in India.
This subheading itself spreads horror! Are we going to face a more infectious and lethal pandemic? Is this strain resistant to vaccines?
In March 2021 a new “double mutant" variant was found and on 28th April 2021, India has the second-highest number of confirmed cases in the world, with the total number of cases reaching 179,97,267 with 29,78,709 active cases and 2,01,187 total deaths.
This added fuel to the fire!
It’s highly debated whether this increase is due to this new variant or it’s due to other reasons.
As Dr. Rakesh Mishra, director of the Hyderabad-based Centre for Cellular and Molecular Biology (CCM) said:
“One suspicion is that this variant is the cause of India's second wave of infections. I would say no, 80% of the samples we have sequenced don't have this combination of mutants. This mutant has been linked to only 230 cases in Maharashtra of the several thousand samples sequenced.”
We can’t say that this variant has not contributed to intensifying this wave in India because we do not have enough data for its transmissibility and infections, but we can say that these few samples couldn’t be the main players of this surge!
Indian officials announced that from the 10,787 samples sequenced in India 736 samples were positive for the UK or the Kent variant (aka B.1.1.7) about 6.8% of the samples.
The UK variant is over 50% more transmissible and 60% more lethal compared to the Wuhan version of this virus. Thus this variant might contribute to making this wave more intense.
Nonetheless, neither the Indian double variant none the UK variant could be the reason behind this surge of cases; the reason is briefed in human behavior.
While the number of daily cases has reached 3,60,960 (as of 28/04/21), the reason for a second wave according to some experts is ineffective social distancing and ineffective implementation of Covid-19 norms. As the cases were on a decline, large numbers of people flouting the guidelines were observed in the markets, nightclubs and restaurants, religious and other public places. The current situation in India is not good keeping in view the high number of daily cases and the lack of healthcare infrastructure dealing with it. The second wave of covid-19 in India can be termed as a ‘Crisis’ keeping in view the acute shortage of hospital beds, oxygen cylinders, and medicines. One can see the social media flooded with S.O.S messages and heart-wrenching news sighting the need to massively upgrade the existing facilities for covid-19 patients. But on the other hand where the covid patients are facing lots of problems, several N.G.Os and volunteer groups have come forward and are working to meet the shortage and to help the patients. The authorities are also trying to counter the shortage by increasing their own production and by importing as well.
India started its vaccination program on 16th January 2021 and has administered over 14,78,27,367 vaccines so far. Covishield (a version of Oxford-AstraZeneca produced by Serum Institute of India), Covaxin (developed by Bharat Biotech), and Sputnik V have been approved for use. But in order to meet the huge demand, India limited the export of Oxford-AstraZeneca. The Indian vaccination program has also been affected by a lack of knowledge and hesitancy of people to get vaccinated as well.
With the number of daily cases rising drastically, India needs to upgrade the healthcare facilities for the covid-19 patients and needs to upgrade the strategies in order to decrease the number of daily cases. A series of well-planned restrictions should also put into place; the security of frontline workers should be ensured, and make-shift hospitals should be established to meet the shortage of hospital beds. Speeding up the vaccination process might also play a key factor in bringing down the number of cases in the near future.
By: Mujtaba Shaw
The UJA of India
2) Kumar, K. Reji (2020). "A comparative study of the SIR prediction models and disease control strategies: A case study of the state of Kerala, India". In Khalid Raza (ed.). Computational Intelligence Methods in COVID-19: Surveillance, Prevention, Prediction, and Diagnosis. New Delhi: Springer. p. 166. ISBN 978-981-15-8533-3.