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After ‘double’ a ‘Triple’ mutant Covid variant adds fresh worries in India

By Saima Siddiqui 
Updated Date
After ‘double’ a ‘Triple’ mutant Covid variant adds fresh worries in India

New Delhi: After the haunting of ‘double’ mutant Coronavirus variant, another advanced ‘triple’ mutant variant is all set to add fresh worries to already gasping health care facilities in India. The country, which has reported nearly three lakh cases and over 2,000 deaths in past 24 hours, the biggest jump since the pandemic erupted, is now forced to fight a new challenge that has emerged in the form of new mutation in the COVID virus.

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The triple mutation means three different Covid strains combining to form a new variant, which has been detected in parts of the country like Maharashtra, Delhi and West Bengal, where cases are believed to have increased due to this new ‘triple’ mutant.

Scientists believe the new surges globally are driven by new variants. “This is a more transmissible variant. It is making lots of people sick very quickly,” said Madhukar Pai, professor of epidemiology at McGill University.

“We have to keep tweaking vaccines. For that we need to understand the disease. But we need sequencing on war footing,” Dr Pai told media.

That sets up a huge challenge for India, where genome sequencing is being done for less than one per cent of all cases, currently.

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According to Dr Pai, the delay in detecting the double mutation may have contributed to the current virus spurt.

Why there are so many mutations?

The more a virus spreads, the more it replicates and the more it mutates.

What do we understand by triple mutation?

A double mutation, which played havoc in India, was formed when two strains combined. Now, three Covid variants have combined to form this new triple mutant.

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Scientists believe mutations are the main cause behind the spike in fresh infection, not just in India but across the world. How infectious the triple mutation is, or how deadly, will be known only from more studies. For now, only 10 labs across India are involved in virus genome studies.

Where, the double mutant showed increased transmission rate and also seen to affect children, the triple mutant has been classified in India as a “variant of interest” rather than “variant of concern”.

Efficiency of existing vaccines against the triple mutation?

Two of the three variants in the triple mutation have been seen to have immune escape responses, meaning they are more resistant to antibodies. However, not much is known yet on the effectiveness of vaccines but experts believe the new variant has some ability to escape the body’s naturally acquired immunity to Coronavirus.

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