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A total of 40 cases of the new Sars-CoV-2 variant AY.1, also referred to as the Delta-plus variant, have been found in samples collected from Maharashtra, Kerala, Tamil Nadu and Madhya Pradesh.
In India, the first case of the Delta plus variant was reported from a 65-year-old woman from Bhopal, Madhya Pradesh, who had recovered from COVID-19 under home isolation and was also administered two doses of the vaccine. Her samples were collected on 23 May 2021 and reports from the National Central for Disease Control (NCDC) on 16 June 2021 stated that she tested positive for the new variant.
The Delta Strain, a mutation in the Delta or B.1.617.2 first detected in India, is believed to be faster-spreading and may be more resistant to existing treatment protocols.
Dr Mrinal Sircar Director and Head Pulmonology/Chest and Sleep Medicine, Fortis Hospital, Noida, says, “The Delta plus variant is a mutation of the Delta variant that affected us during the second wave. A few cases have been recorded in Maharashtra. At the moment, I have not seen any cases myself.”
He adds, “The Delta plus variant contains an additional mutation called K417N on the coronavirus spike and it is said to be a variant of interest.”
NITI Aayog’s Member Health, Dr V K Paul during a press conference said, “Delta Plus is a variant of interest but it has not yet been classified as a ‘variant of concern’, in which there is adverse consequence to humanity. As per data available in the public domain, this variant nullifies the use of monoclonal [antibodies made by cloning a unique white blood cell] antibodies. We will scientifically study and learn more about this variant.”
According to this report, V K Paul said that the Delta Plus had been seen in Europe ‘since March’ and was brought into the public domain on 13 June 2021.
Speaking about the symptoms associated with this new variant, Dr Sircar says, “As of now symptoms are slightly more severe than those of the Delta variant but we need more studies to determine the same. It is highly transmissible, yes, but the vaccine should prove to be effective against it.”
It is imperative that we continue to follow all COVID appropriate protocols, which include frequent hand washing or sanitising, wearing a double mask and staying away from crowded public spaces.
(Edited by Yoshita Rao)