The Fact News Service

Vaccination enough to avoid third wave?

The Fact News Web Desk
Chandigarh, June 25

The devastating second wave of the pandemic was primarily caused by the Delta variation of the COVID-19, which was discovered in India. However, a mutation of that form known as ‘Delta Plus’ has recently arisen, which is cause for alarm.

Delta Plus has been labelled a “Variant of Concern” in India. Some experts are concerned that the mutation, when combined with other characteristics of the Delta variety, could make it dangerous.

Health Ministry reportedly said Wednesday that it had found around 40 cases of the Delta Plus variant with the K417N mutation in the states of Maharashtra, Kerala, and Madhya Pradesh with ‘no significant increase in prevalence’.

Around 200 cases of the new Delta plus variant had been found in as many as 11 countries till June 16 with Britain (36), Canada (1), India (8), Japan (15), Nepal (3), Poland (9), Portugal (22), Russia (1), Switzerland (18), Turkey (1), and the United States (83).

India’s challenges in accelerating its inoculation drive are considerable. The fewer than 100 million doses per month being currently pumped out of two local manufacturers are struggling to cover its nearly 1.4 billion people. There is also considerable hesitancy to overcome and logistical hurdles to reaching much of the countryside, where more than two-thirds of Indians live.

Nevertheless, Prime Minister Narendra Modi must hope that the record jump will be the jolt the immunization campaign needs. This week, N.K. Arora, the chair of the National Technical Advisory Group on Immunization in India, said as many as 220 million shots will become available starting next month. India aims to vaccinate 10 million people a day, he said, pointing to the country’s history with large childhood inoculation drives for diseases such as polio.

Still some researchers are skeptical and took to social media to criticize the sudden spurt. Chandrakant Lahariya, a New Delhi-based epidemiologist and co-author of a book on India’s battle against Covid, called it “an overzealous attempt” to hit a record that would drain limited stocks.

‘Delta plus’ COVID-19 variant

Delta Plus (B.1.617.2.1/(AY.1) is a new variant of the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus formed due to a mutation in the Delta strain of the virus (B.1.617.2 variant).

It is a sub-lineage of the Delta variant first detected in India and has acquired the spike protein mutation called K417N also found in the Beta variant first identified in South Africa.

Since it is still technically a new mutant strain, not much is known about its severity or resistance to antibodies.

Some reports claim that the Delta plus (AY.1) is resistant to monoclonal antibodies cocktail, but more research is required in this area.

Shahid Jameel, a top Indian virologist, said the K417N was known to reduce the effectiveness of a cocktail of therapeutic monoclonal antibodies.

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