Delta plus a Covid-19 'variant of concern' in India: Health ministry

Updated on Jun 22, 2021 10:22 PM IST

In India, 16 of the 22 cases of Delta plus variant have been found in Ratnagiri and Jalgaon in Maharashtra and some in Kerala and Madhya Pradesh, health secretary Rajesh Bhushan announced in the briefing.

Health workers in PPE coveralls working at a temporary coronavirus testing facility set up at Sarai Kale Khan in New Delhi.(HT Photo)
Health workers in PPE coveralls working at a temporary coronavirus testing facility set up at Sarai Kale Khan in New Delhi.(HT Photo)

The Union health ministry on Tuesday declared the Delta plus mutation of the coronavirus disease a 'variant of concern.' This was announced after the Union health secretary in a joint press conference informed that the country has logged 22 cases so far, where the Delta plus variant was found in the test samples.

In India, 16 of the 22 cases of Delta plus variant have been found in Ratnagiri and Jalgaon in Maharashtra and some in Kerala and Madhya Pradesh, health secretary Rajesh Bhushan announced in the briefing. He also said that the Delta plus variant has been found in the US, the UK, Portugal, Switzerland, Japan, Poland, Nepal, China and Russia besides India.

The health ministry issued the statement after Indian SARS-CoV-2 Consortium on Genomics (INSACOG) informed the officials that the Delta plus mutation has a number of characteristics including increased transmissibility, stronger binding to receptors of lung cells and potential reduction in monoclonal antibody response. In the same briefing, the consortium apprised the government that it is now a 'variant of concern.'

INSACOG is a consortium of 28 laboratories of the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, Department of Biotechnology, Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) and Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) for whole genome sequencing in the context of the Covid-19 pandemic.

INSACOG is tasked with not just the whole genome sequencing but also for giving timely inputs on appropriate Public Health Response measures to be adopted by States and UTs. INSACOG has informed that the Delta Plus Variant, currently a Variant of Concern (VOC), has the following characteristics: Increased transmissibility; Stronger binding to receptors of lung cells and Potential reduction in monoclonal antibody response.

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