Millennium Post (Kolkata)

Triple mutation variant in India a new worry in Covid battle


NEW DELHI: As India reports nearly three lakh cases and over 2,000 deaths in 24 hours, the biggest jump since the pandemic erupted, a new mutation in the Covid virus has emerged as the new challenge.

After the double mutation, it’s now the triple mutation, meaning three different Covid strains combining to form a new variant, have been detected in parts of the country, according to media reports.

States like Maharashtr­a, Delhi and West Bengal are believed to have cases driven by the triple mutant.

Scientists believe the new surges globally are driven by new variants.

“This is a more transmissi­ble variant. It is making lots of people sick very quickly,” said Madhukar Pai, professor of epidemiolo­gy at McGill University.

“We have to keep tweaking vaccines. For that, we need to understand the disease. But we need sequencing on a war footing,” Dr Pai told a private news channel.

That sets up a huge challenge for India, where genome sequencing is being done for less than one per cent of all cases, currently.

According to Dr Pai, the delay in detecting the double mutation may have contribute­d to the current virus spurt.

The more a virus spreads, the more it replicates and the more it mutates.

A double mutation, which surfaced in India, was when two strains combined. Now, three Covid variants have combined to form the triple mutation.

Experts believe mutations are driving the fresh infection spikes, not just in India but across the world.

How infectious the triple mutation is, or how deadly, will be known only from more studies. For now, only 10 labs across India are involved in virus genome studies. The double mutant shows increased transmissi­on rate and is seen to affect children too. It has more severe pathogenic­ity, say scientists.

For now, the triple mutation has been classified in India as a “variant of interest” rather than “variant of concern”.

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