Indian experts studying the effectiveness of vaccines on Delta plus variant
India is witnessing an unprecedented rise in transmission of the Delta plus variant of the novel Coronavirus at a time when health authorities are trying to overcome the impact of the second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic.
In an advisory issued on Wednesday, the Union health ministry highlighted that more than 40 new cases of Delta plus variant have been reported from various states, including Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, and Kerala.
Taking note of the looming health crisis, the health ministry advised these states to implement immediate containment measures in hotspots in order to prevent the further spread of the highly contagious COVID-19 variant.
Reportedly, the Delta Plus variant or B.1.617.2.1 is a mutated version of the Delta variant that resulted in surge in infections during the second COVID-19 wave in India. Delta Plus also has mutations in the RNA virus’ spike protein region which makes it more communicable, like the Delta variant.
In view of the concerns related to the Delta Plus variant, Indian health experts have underlined that study is being conducted to understand the effectiveness of vaccines on the mutated version of SARS-CoV-2. Speaking about the development, ICMR (Indian Council of Medical Research) experts asserted that the research team is closely monitoring the neutralisation capabilities of antibodies drawn from vaccine recipients on the Delta Plus virus variant.
Earlier, the health ministry pointed out that the two vaccines currently available in India – Covaxin and Covishield – are proving effective against the Delta variant of the COVID-19 virus. Essentially, more research is needed to determine the effectiveness of vaccines available in India against the Delta Plus variant.
On Thursday, top genome sequencer Dr Anurag Agarwal noted that there is no evidence that the Delta Plus variant will result in a third wave of COVID-19in India. Speaking to NDTV, Dr Anurag Agarwal, Director of the Institute of Genomics and Integrative Biology (IGIB), stated that the institute has sequenced more than 3,500 samples from Maharashtra in recent weeks, resulting that the Delta Plus variant of the virus constitutes less than one percent among the tested samples.
“I certainly do not see any reason right now for people to panic regarding Delta Plus being significantly worse than Delta or creating a major third-wave…There is absolutely no evidence for that,” he added.
Medical experts are keeping a close watch on the developments related to the new variants of COVID-19 in the country. There is not enough evidentiary support to determine the impact of the new variant over its parent. Meanwhile, India is gearing up for a potential third wave of COVID-19 in the coming weeks.
The Centre has already issued precautionary measures and guidelines for state governments to prevent surge in infections.