With the detection of over 40 cases of the Delta Plus variant in three states, the Union Health Ministry on Tuesday, June 22, declared it as a 'variant of concern'. The variant is a deadly mutation of the Delta strain or B.1.617.2 which was first detected in India and is believed to have triggered the devastating second wave in the country.
Swinging into action, the government has raised an alert and directed the three states — Maharashtra, Kerala, and Madhya Pradesh to initiate immediate measures to curb the spread of the variant where the cases have been detected, reported Hindustan Times.
The ministry shared that this variant was found in the genome sequenced samples from Ratnagiri and Jalgaon in Maharashtra, Palakkad, and Pathanamthitta in Kerala, and Bhopal and Shivpuri districts in Madhya Pradesh.
Delta Plus In Nine Other Countries
India is among the nine other countries where the highly infectious Delta Plus variant has been detected. The nine countries are the US, the UK, Portugal, Japan, Switzerland, Poland, Nepal, China, and Russia.
Three Characteristics Of Variant
The ministry has identified three characteristics of the Delta plus variant — increased transmissibility of the virus, stronger binding to receptors of lung cells, and potential reduction in monoclonal antibody response.
These characteristics have been held responsible for its infectious trait and reduced antibody response.
The chief secretaries of the states have been told to take necessary measures to prevent large gatherings and ramp up testing and tracing of the contacts as well as mass vaccination drive to curb the spread of the virus in the states.
Delta Variant In Goa
Meanwhile, Goa's state epidemiologist Dr Utkarsh Betodkar said that 33 samples of the 122 tested fortnightly for COVID-19 genome sequencing have shown that 26 of them were Delta variant and it is the reason for the spike in cases in April and May during the second wave of the novel coronavirus.
The samples were taken in May when the cases were at the peak in the state, reported The Indian Express.