‘Triple mutant strain’: Everything you need to know about India’s deadly Bengal strain

These two mutations have been separately reported in other Covid-19 strains but were never seen together in one strain until last year.

All you need to know about India’s deadly new Covid-19 strain.

A new double mutant variant of SARS-COV-2, which causes Covid-19 disease, is creating chaos in India. Covid-19 infections are rising in the country at a devastating rate.

The new strain has fueled India’s ongoing deadly wave of Coronavirus. The hospitals and crematoriums are flooded with people and bodies, making India the second most affected country globally.

Here is everything you need to know about India’s new deadly strain of Coronavirus:

Covid-19 has mutated into something deadly in India.

Evolution of the Strain

Viruses mutate all the time; however, some mutations weaken the virus, and others make it more infectious. India’s mutated strain of Covid-19 was first found in the western state of Maharashtra in October 2020. After identification, experts named the mutation B.1.617.

Unfortunately, ever since the strain’s existence was first reported, The  Indian Health Ministry continuously downplayed its presence. The devastation caused by the virus strain was finally acknowledged at the end of March this year.

Experts talk about the deadly new Coronavirus strain.

What do Experts say about the Strain?

According to experts, the double mutant Indian variant of Coronavirus carries two mutations:

  • L452R – has the potential to increase the binding power of the spike protein of Coronavirus with human cells, making it much more transmissible.
  • E484Q – has been found to reduce the effectiveness of antibodies generated by a vaccine or a previous infection of Covid-19.

These two mutations have been separately reported in other Covid-19 strains but were never seen together in one strain until last year.

Cases of Covid-19 rising in India at an alarming rate.

India’s increased infection rate due to the New Strain

GISAID, a global primary source that provides open access to genomic data of influenza viruses and the Coronavirus, states:

According to genome sequencing of B.1.617, the double mutant strain is responsible for India’s most COVID-19 infections in recent weeks.

Reports state that the B.1.617 variant accounts for more than 60% of the total cases in many districts of Maharashtra state, the center of the current wave of Coronavirus. Moreover, the double mutant variant has been found in nearly a dozen Indian states. Talking about the rising number of cases, experts state:

The number of states reporting the B.1.617 variant will only increase as two critical mutations have made it transmit rapidly and escape antibodies from previous Covid-19 infection.

Is the new virus strain deadlier than all others?

Double Mutant Virus vs. Other Strains

Scientists are still investigating the features of the double mutant strain. However, these are the facts that experts have understood to date:

  • The L452R mutation has been found to increase the virus’s transmission by 20% and reduce the antibodies’ efficacy by 50%.
  • The B.1.617 variant has all the features of a hazardous virus.

Experts have strongly advised healthcare authorities to contain the spread of the B.1.617 variant.

Will vaccines safeguard us against the new Covid-19 strain?

Are vaccines effective against the Strain?

Experts state:

In the absence of sufficient data, it is difficult to answer this.

According to reports, pharmaceutical companies worldwide are testing whether the Coronavirus strains, including the B.1.617, are capable of immune escape or not. Immune escape is known as the ability of the virus to evade the immune response of the human body. A strain is known to be capable of immune escape if the antibodies developed after vaccination or previous infection fail to protect a person from contracting the virus.

Experts state:

If the new double mutant variant is capable of immune escape, this would have widespread repercussions for vaccination programs worldwide.

The deadly strain of the virus in on the rise.

Double Mutant Strain’s presence in Other Countries

According to reports, strain B.1.617 has been found outside India. More than ten countries, including the US, UK, Australia, and New Zealand, have reported double-mutant variants’ cases.

In a bid to prevent the transmission of the highly infectious B.1.617, several countries, including Pakistan, have suspended all sorts of travel to and from India.

Coronavirus variants reported in the UK, South Africa, and Brazil have also proven to be worrisome strains for healthcare authorities worldwide. Studies have proven these strains to be more contagious and deadly.

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