Variant detected in UK may be driving current COVID-19 wave in Delhi

Variant detected in UK may be driving current COVID-19 wave in Delhi
The current wave of the coronavirus pandemic in Delhi could have been fuelled by the UK variant as its prevalence in genomes sequenced nearly doubled from the second to the last week of March, Sujeet Singh, director of the National Centre for Disease Control, said on Friday. Speaking at a webinar, 'Genome Sequencing of SARS-CoV-19', Singh said the UK variant of coronavirus is also dominant in Punjab. In Delhi, there are primarily two types of variants -- B.1.617 and the UK strain -- found in the genome sequenced samples, the NCDC director said. The B.1.617 variant of coronavirus is also known as the double mutant strain. The UK variant was found in 28% of samples in the second week of March. In the last week of the month, 50% of samples had this variant, Singh said. "If we try to co-relate, the surge we are observing in Delhi, it directly correlates to the type of variant which we are observing," he said. So far, Singh said, 15,133 samples have been sequenced by INSACOG, a consortium formed in December last year to increase viral genomic surveillance in order to understand the spread of the coronavirus in a rapid and robust manner. This was also after the UK, South African and Brazilian strains, which have a higher rate of transmission, emerged. Singh said in Maharashtra, the B.1.617 variant was found in proportions of over 50% in many cities. The NCDC is one of the 10 laboratories involved in the genome sequencing of coronavirus. Meanwhile, India is among the world’s worst-affected countries in terms of COVID-19 cases at present. While demands for medical oxygen, ventilators and ICU beds have risen from across the country, the Union government has announced that anybody above the age of 18 can receive COVID-19 vaccine from May 1. Following this, several state governments have announced their protocols and priority groups to be vaccinated from May 1 (Inputs from PTI)

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