Delta Plus Variant: ‘Variant of Concern’ declared, 40 cases have come so far, Maharashtra and Kerala are on the radar

The Union Health Ministry said on Wednesday that the number of cases of the Delta Plus variant of Covid-19 has now increased to 40. Also, it is now categorized as Variant of Concern (VOC). These cases have been found sporadically in Maharashtra, Kerala and Madhya Pradesh. It said that all Delta sub-lineages including the Delta variant as well as the Delta Plus have been placed under VOC.

In its statement, the ministry said, “So far, in sequence samples (45000+) in India, the delta plus variant – AY.1 – has been observed sporadically in Maharashtra, Kerala and Madhya Pradesh. About 40 cases have been reported so far. have been identified and there is no more serious increase.” These three states have been advised to increase surveillance and take appropriate public health measures.

Following the report of AY.1 by Public Health England (PHE) on 11 June, analysis of samples revealed the first case of this variant in samples collected from Maharashtra. This sample was taken on 5 April.

As of June 18, 205 sequences of AY.1 variants had been detected worldwide, with more than half of the cases in the US and UK, the statement said. INSACOG recently identified a viral variant (delta, B.1.617.2). This viral variant has also been found in nine more countries of the world.

INSACOG is an Indian consortium of 28 labs, set up by the Government of India to conduct genome sequencing of the virus causing the COVID-19 pandemic.

The World Health Organization has introduced two types of – Variant of Concern (VOC) and Variant of Interest (VOI) classifications for the variants of the virus found around the world. The Delta variant as well as all Delta lineages, including the Delta Plus, are subject to VOC, the statement said.

The Indian SARS-CoV-2 Genomic Consortia (INSACOG) reported a delta plus variant (B.1.617.2) + K417N lineage of SARS-CoV2, termed B.1.617.2.1/AY.1. The delta plus variant B.1.617.2.1/ (AY.1) is characterized by a K417N mutation in the spike protein, the statement said.

There are other Delta Plus variants along with other mutations. Of these, AY.1 has been identified, but the rest are yet to be identified. Sequencing uploaded from the US to GISAID found that there is a second clade now known as AY.2, but no cases have been reported in India so far, the statement said.

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