Following the detection of "Delta Plus" variant in COVID patients in some parts of the country, the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) and the National Institute of Virology (NIV) have decided to conduct a study to see if the new and more potent variant of coronavirus can be neutralised by the existing vaccines in India.
According to the government, Delta Plus cases have been found in Maharashtra (Ratnagiri and Jalgaon), Kerala (Palakkad and Pathanamthitta) and in Madhya Pradesh (Bhopal and Shivpuri).
The study is likely to involve Covaxin and Covishield vaccines.
"The newly emerged Delta Plus variant has possible increased transmissibility, higher binding capacity to the lung cells and resistance to monoclonal antibody treatment. Looking at this scenario, Delta Plus variant could be a concern, and a high watch should be undertaken and containment of affected zone should be done reduce the transmission," said Dr Pragya Yadav, head of the NIV's Maximum Containment Facility.
Asked whether existing vaccines can fight against the Delta Plus variant, she said that samples have been collected and a study is being carried out.
"As per earlier data concerning Delta variant, neutralization was happening with the existing vaccines in India. Though neutralization has dropped, it's enough to protect against Delta variant. Delta Plus should also behave (in a similar manner). We are working in this direction. We have isolated this variant and we are going to conduct a study soon. We will come back with the study," she said.
All Delta sub-lineages are treated as variants of concern (VOC) and properties of AY.1 are still being investigated. Delta Plus is also known as ''AY.1'' variant or B.1.617.2.1
The variant frequency of AY.1 is low in India. Cases with AY.1 have been mostly reported from nine countries of Europe, Asia and America.