India on alert as ‘Delta Plus’ variant detected
India's health authorities are on alert as Covid genomic surveillance experts reported some cases of a new sub-lineage of SARS CoV 2's Delta variant, which is potentially more infectious, in Madhya Pradesh and Maharashtra states.
Seven cases of the new variant AY.4.2, dubbed "Delta Plus", were detected in Indore city of Madhya Pradesh in a genome sequencing report by National Centre of Disease Control (NCDC), sources in NCDC said.
Out of seven, two people infected are army officers posted in a cantonment, said Indore chief medical and health officer BS Saitya.
Delta AY.4.2 variant has been detected in less than one percent samples in Maharashtra and has not yet been described as a variant of concern, according to Anurag Agarwal, the lead scientist of the Institute of Genomics and Integrative Biology.
The scientists of consortium of government labs, which undertake genome sequencing, have indicated that the new variant may be more contagious and faster transmissible than the Delta strain, reports our New Delhi correspondent.
"Delta remains the predominant variant... a Delta sub lineage newly-designated as AY.4.2 is noted to be expanding in England. It is now a signal in monitoring and assessment has commenced," the NCDC report said.
The report also said that the sub-lineage had caused the Covid surge in Indore district in September when the Covid-19 infections had jumped by 64 percent than in August.
AY.4.2 was first detected in the UK in July this year and over 15,000 cases have been reported since then. It has been noticed in 33 other countries too even though in lesser numbers.
The UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) has been examining all available data relating to variants of SARS-CoV-2, which causes Covid-19, in the UK – where daily infection rates remain high.
"More evidence is needed to know whether this is due to changes in the virus' behaviour or to epidemiological conditions," UKHSA said.