48 Delta Plus cases in 11 states: More study needed, cases very localised, says health ministry
The 'plus' in the name of 'Delta Plus' does not mean this variant will cause more severe infections, Dr Sujeet Kumar Singh of the National Centre for Disease Control said.
The Union health ministry on Friday said 48 cases of Delta Plus variant of the SARS-CoV-2 virus have been found in the country, spread across 11 states including Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Punjab, Gujarat, Kerala, Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Odisha, Rajasthan, Jammu and Karnataka. "Wherever you find a cluster, you have to contain it," Dr Balram Bhargava, director-general, Indian Council of Medical Research said adding that the second wave of the pandemic is not yet over.
Giving a detailed presentation of the genome sequencing work, Dr Sujeet Kumar Singh of the National Centre for Disease Control said, "Forming a scientific opinion on a variant takes time. Genome sequencing takes 10-12 days. Then some more samples are sometimes sought from the state to find out whether the particular variant is linked to the spike in the cases." Dr Singh said the plus in the name of Delta Plus does not denote more virulence. "The plus is an addition of an existing variant. It does not mean that it is stronger than Delta. At least the name does not. If scientific evidence suggests so in future, we will inform the public about it."
Delta Plus: List of states where this new Covid variant has been reported so far
How Delta variant spread in India since December 2020
In his presentation, Dr Singh said the Delta variant, first reported in India, had a minimum presence in the country in December. In March 2021, the variant spread to 52 districts and in June there are 174 districts reporting the variant. But the trend is declining, Dr Singh said. At present, the Delta variant can be found in 174 districts in 35 states, the highest being reported from Maharashtra, Delhi, Punjab, Telangana, West Bengal and Gujarat. The distribution was not uniform. In some places, Delta variant cases were minimum at the beginning and then gradually Delta took over Alpha, Dr Singh said, adding that Delta is stronger than Alpha.
Why more study required to understand the nature of the Delta Plus variant
The number of Delta Plus variant cases in the country as well as in the world is not enough for extensive study. For example, Dr Singh said, Delta Plus cases have been there in India sporadically for three months. "It can't be said that this is a growing trend. This variant has the same mutations as Delta. Only one mutation K417N is different for which Delta variant is believed to be immune-escape and monoclonal antibody-resistant, but more studies are required," Dr Singh said.