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Delta Plus A 'Variant of Concern' Says Health Ministry, States Instructed to Keep Close Watch

Delta Plus worry for government of the country

Friday, 25th June 2021

The Delta Plus variant of coronavirus has been deemed as a 'variant of concern' by the Union Health Ministry who have instructed states to adopt immediate measures of containment in specific clusters where this version of the deadly virus has been detected.

Currently three states- Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh and Kerala are the primary locations where the new variant has been found. The government has directed these states to ramp up vaccination drives, conduct more testing and redouble containment.

According to INSACOG, a consortium of 28 laboratories of the Health Ministry that is involved in genome sequencing, the Delta Plus variant has three primary characteristics that are major causes of concern:

  • increased transmissibility
  • stronger binding in receptors of lung cells
  • potential reduction in monoclonal antibody response

The Centre's decision came after the body informed them of their worry on Tuesday. This new variant, B.1.617.2.1, is very closely related to the Delta variant which was a main contributor to the now receding second wave of the pandemic in India. Similar to the Delta variant, the Delta Plus version has mutation in the spike protein region of the RNA virus, making it more potent and easily transmissible.

According to the Centre's data, the number of cases where the new Delta Plus variant has been detected rose to 40 on Wednesday as opposed to 22 from a day before.

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In a letter to state chief secretaries, the Union Health Secretary Rajesh Bhushan wrote, "The Public Health Response, in this case, while broadly remaining the same, has to become more focused and stringent. Thus, you are requested to take up immediate containment measures in these districts and clusters including preventing crowds and intermingling of people, widespread testing, prompt tracing as well as vaccine coverage on a priority basis."

Meanwhile, three villages in Kerala have been shut where the new variant has been detected and all residents are undergoing compulsory Covid-19 tests.

State health minister of Maharashtra expressed his anguish over the number of daily cases of Covid-19 which is not falling below the 8,000-mark. He also said they are arranging to get 100 samples from each district sent every day for genome testing.

The Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) and the National Institute of Virology (NIV) will conduct a study to check if this variant of the virus can be offset by vaccines available in India.

The News Talkie Bureau



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