Strains of the Covid virus in India with "double mutations" have been found in patients in 10 states and this could be responsible for rising infections and a faster spread in these states, top sources in the Union Health Ministry told NDTV.
Maharashtra, Delhi, West Bengal, Gujarat, Karnataka and Madhya Pradesh are among the states where double mutant strains were found, sources said, adding that these mutants are playing a role in the rapid rise in COVID-19 cases.
However, it cannot be said that double mutants are 100 per cent responsible for the rise in cases, sources in the ministry said.
A "double mutation" is when two mutated strains of a virus come together to form a third strain. The one reported in India is the result of the E484Q and L452R strains combining.The L452R strain is found in California in the United States and the E484Q strain is indigenous.
The data on double mutations and the rising trend were detected after nearly 14,0000 samples were subjected to genome sequencing, a testing process to understand the complete genetics of an organism, officials said. Officials are also analysing the role of the double mutant's role in Covid-linked deaths, the severity of infections, preliminary infection, reinfection, its effects on vaccination.
Sources said that Delhi has a mix of the UK strain of the virus as well strains with double mutations. In Punjab, the British strain was found in 80 per cent of people with Covid. Around 60 per cent of the cases in Maharashtra have the double mutant strain, although capital Mumbai hasn't reported this.
18 to 19 states, or 70 to 80 districts in the country, have reported UK strain of the coronavirus, sources said. The presence of the South African and the Brazilian variants is limited to a fewer districts.
In whichever state double mutants are being detected, the government is sharing the information with those states, Health Ministry sources said. The state surveillance officer then decides a ground action plan.
Last month, the government had downplayed reports of the novel, double mutant strain identified in India.
Amid a surge in daily coronavirus cases, the government had last month downplayed reports of a novel, double mutant strain identified in India. India today crossed the two lakh mark in new COVID-19 cases, pushing the total caseload to over 1.4 crore.