26 June 2021, New Delhi
Delta Plus variant of the coronavirus has spread to 12 states in India, with Maharashtra reporting the highest number of cases at 22, the Centre said on Friday.
Likewise, Nepal has reported 9 cases of the Delta Plus variant so far.
The government said there are now 51 cases of Delta Plus, emphasizing their number is very limited and it cannot be said that it is showing an upward trend.
Sujeet Singh, the director of the National Centre for Disease Control (NCDC), said there is a very limited number of cases of the Delta Plus mutation.
There are 22 cases of Delta Plus variant of the coronavirus in Maharashtra, followed by nine in Tamil Nadu, seven in Madhya Pradesh, three in Kerala, two each in Punjab and Gujarat, and one case each in Andhra Pradesh, Odisha, Rajasthan, Jammu and Kashmir, Haryana and Karnataka, Singh added.
“There are nearly 50 cases that are found in 12 districts and this has happened in the last three months. It cannot be said that in any district or state it is showing an increasing trend. Till the time we don’t correlate this we will not say this is a rising trend because its mutations are the same as Delta variant,” Singh said during a health ministry briefing on Friday.
These 51 Delta Plus cases were detected from over 45,000 samples sequenced so far in the country.
Singh said the Delta Plus variant signifies the Delta variant with an additional mutation – B.1.617.2.1. This specifically refers to the acquisition of the K417N genetic variant in the background of Variant of Concern (VoC) Delta (B.1.617.2) and that K417N is of public significance as this mutation is also present in the Variant of Concern Beta (B.1.351), he added.
“This does not mean…that severity of transmission is more or lead to more severe disease. If scientific evidence does (suggest) that then we will definitely let you know,” he said adding that since the Delta variant is already a Variant of Concern, its sub-lineage can also be called a VoC.
Singh said Andhra Pradesh, Delhi, Haryana, Kerala, Maharashtra, Punjab, Telangana, and West Bengal have Delta variants in more than 50 percent of the samples sequenced.
“After that, we came to a conclusion that exponential surge during the second wave was to a large extent driven by this variant. Ninety percent of the cases (of the samples sequenced) are being driven by B.1.617.2 (Delta) variant of SARS-CoV2,” Singh said.
Coronavirus variants of concern have been found in 174 districts in 35 states and Union territories with the highest number of such cases seen in Maharashtra, Delhi, Punjab, Telangana, West Bengal, and Gujarat, Singh said. The proportion of Covid-19 cases with variants of concern rose from 10.31 percent in May to 51 percent on June 20, he added.
Indian Council of Medical Research’s (ICMR’s) director-general Balaram Bhargava said the Delta Plus variant has now been reported in 12 countries and that it has been found in 12 states in India but are very localized. “Delta Plus variant has also been isolated and cultured at ICMR-NIV and laboratory tests to check vaccine effect on Delta Plus variant. We should have these results within 7-10 days whether the vaccine is working against the Delta Plus,” Bhargava said.
(with inputs from Agencies)