The Union Health Ministry on Tuesday said 22 cases of the Delta plus variant of Covid-19, considered highly infectious, have been found in India so far. The new Delta plus variant has been formed due to a mutation in the Delta (B.1.617.2) variant, first identified in India, that unleashed the deadly second wave of coronavirus pandemic in the country.
Addressing a presser, Union Health Secretary Rajesh Bhushan said, “Delta variant is found in 80 nations, including India. It is considered ‘variant of concern’. Delta Plus found in nine nations such as US, UK, Portugal, Switzerland, Japan, Poland, Nepal, China and Russia. Twenty-two cases found in India. Variant is in category of ‘variant of interest’.”
The health ministry further said that it has issued an advisory on the containment of Delta plus variant in the country.
“In India, 16 of the 22 cases of Delta Plus variant have been found in Ratnagiri and Jalgaon (Maharashtra) and some cases in Kerala and Madhya Pradesh,” said Bhushan.
On Monday, Maharashtra Health Minister Rajesh Tope had informed that samples were collected from different parts of the state and their genome sequencing was done.
Genome sequencing allows the tracking of small mutations in SARS-CoV2, the virus that causes Covid-19, meaning chains of transmission can be identified. The scientific process also assists in identifying missing links in the chain of transmission.
Some days back, AIIMS director Randeep Guleria had said that the delta plus variant of coronavirus may affect the efficacy of the vaccines available in India but it will still be effective against the variant. The delta plus is a variant of interest and not of concern yet, he had said.
Though there is no indication yet of the severity of the disease due to the new variant, Delta plus is resistant to the monoclonal antibody cocktail treatment for Covid-19 recently authorised in India.
The country registered less than 50,000 new coronavirus infections, the lowest in 91 days, taking the total tally of cases to 29,977,861, while active cases fell below 700,000 after 79 days, the Union health ministry’s data on Tuesday showed. A total of 42,640 Covid-19 cases were reported in a day and the death toll climbed to 3,89,302 with 1167 daily fatalities, the lowest in 68 days.
NITI Aayog VK Paul, who was also part of the conference, said that India achieved a “historic milestone” of administering more than 8.8 million doses of the Covid-19 vaccine in a single day on June 21. Out of this nearly 64 per cent of the jabs were given in rural areas, Paul highlighted.
Of the total doses, 36.32 per cent were administered in urban areas and 63.68 per cent in rural areas, he informed. Madhya Pradesh administered the maximum number of doses on June 21, followed by Karnataka, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Haryana, Gujarat, Rajasthan, Tamil Nadu, Maharashtra and Assam, Paul also said.