State health minister Rajesh Tope while confirmed receiving a genome sequencing report from CSIR-IGIB, refused to discuss the matter till Monday
State health minister Rajesh Tope while confirmed receiving a genome sequencing report from CSIR-IGIB, refused to discuss the matter till Monday

Maharashtra reports 20 Delta+ Covid variant cases: Officials

  • The Delta-plus, formed by mutation in the Delta (B.1.617.2) variant, is currently a “variant of interest”, and hasn’t been classified as a “variant of concern” by the Union health ministry yet.
By Rupsa Chakraborty and Faisal Malik, Mumbai
UPDATED ON JUN 21, 2021 01:26 AM IST

A total of 20 cases of the new Sars-CoV-2 variant AY.1, also dubbed the Delta-plus, have been found in samples collected from at least four districts of Maharashtra — Sindhudurg, Ratnagiri, Palghar and Jalgaon. More samples have been sent for genome sequencing to understand whether the new variant is dominant or scattered, state government officials said.

The Delta-plus, formed by mutation in the Delta (B.1.617.2) variant, is currently a “variant of interest”, and hasn’t been classified as a “variant of concern” by the Union health ministry yet.

In April, the state government signed an MoU with the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research’s (CSIR) Institute of Genomics and Integrative Biology (IGIB) to sequence 100 Covid positive samples each from 36 districts per month.

Genome sequencing is an exercise to study changes in the structure of the virus over time.

State health minister Rajesh Tope while confirmed receiving a genome sequencing report from CSIR-IGIB, refused to discuss the matter till Monday. “CSIR-IGIB has prepared a report based on samples collected of Covid positive patients from all districts of the state... The contents of the report will be discussed in a meeting to be held on Monday and inferences will be drawn...,” he said.

In Ratnagiri, Dr Sanghamitra Gawde, a civil surgeon, said she has not received the final report confirming the presence of the Delta-plus variant, but said 50 samples have been sent to the National Institute of Virology for genome sequencing in June.

“We are randomly collecting samples from areas that are recording high infections...”

Dr Subhash Salunkhe, state advisor to Covid-19 task force, said he hasn’t received the official report from the public health department, but said: “The Delta variant is extremely infectious and contributed to a great extent in the second wave. So, we need to study the epidemiological characteristics of the mutated virus (Delta plus) to understand its implications in the general population.”

Earlier this week, Dr VK Paul, Niti Aayog member (health), said the variant was first observed in Europe in March.

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