A forum of scientific advisors set up by the Indian government, Indian Sars-CoV-2 Genetics Consortium (INSACOG), found minor mutations in the COVID-19 samples that could potentially “evade immune response”, and would require closer inspection and more study.
Image via Reuters India
"We are seeing some mutation coming up in some samples that could possibly evade immune responses," said Dr Shahid Jameel, chair of the scientific advisory group of Insacog and a top Indian virologist.
However, there is no confirmation that the mutations have been seen in the Indian variant or any other strain.
Currently, the advisors are flagging the mutations to keep track of them closely despite having no proof of them expanding or could be dangerous.
"Unless you culture those viruses and test them in the lab, you can't say for sure. At this point, there is no reason to believe that they are expanding or if they can be dangerous, but we flagged it so that we keep our eye on the ball," he said.
The World Health Organization (WHO) has not declared the Indian variant as “variant of concern”, unlike the variants detected in the United Kingdom, South Africa, and Britain.
But the WHO has suggested that the B1617 variant –the first variant detected in the country– had a higher growth rate than other variants circulating in India, based on genome sequencing.
The country is currently facing a stronger wave of COVID-19, and scientists are studying what has led to the rise of numbers of cases, and whether the B1617 variant is to blame.
In another update, Malaysia recorded its first case of the B1617 variant originating from India.
Health Minister Datuk Seri Dr Adham Baba said, “we have detected the first case of the Indian variant, the double mutant strain, through the entry of an Indian national when we were carrying out tests at the Kuala Lumpur International Airport.”
Day by the day it feels like the situation is getting worse, and we’re nowhere near the solution. Hopefully everything will go back to normal soon (or later).
Credits to Asia One for the initial coverage.