As India begins to loosen some of its restrictions due to declining COVID-19 cases, a mutated version of the already highly transmissible B.1.617.2 (Delta variant) of the virus, has emerged in the country.

The "Delta plus" or "AY.1" variant has been found to be present in six genomes from the country as of June 7, said a report in The Pioneer. It is reportedly resistant to the monoclonal antibody cocktail treatment currently authorised to treat COVID-19 in India.

However, healths experts are saying that there is no immediate concerns regarding the "Delta plus" or "AY.1" variant, as its incidence is still low, and following prevention norms such as wearing face masks and receiving two jabs of the vaccine should be able to check its infection.

According to Vinod Scaria, clinician and scientist at Delhi’s CSIR-Institute of Genomics and Integrative Biology (IGIB), the mutation in Delta plus is in the spike protein of SARS-COV-2, which helps the virus enter and infect the human cells.

For the record, monoclonal antibodies are laboratory-made proteins, namely Casirivimab and Imdevimab, that mimic the immune system’s ability to fight off viruses. These antibodies are specifically designed to target the spike protein of the Covid virus by not letting the virus attach itself and enter into the human cells.

The Delta variant, first identified in India, is now the dominant strain in the UK.

This variant carries a greater risk of hospitalization, and is more resistant to vaccines, especially when only one dose had been administered.

India to date has over 29.5 million confirmed COVID-19 cases, and more than 377,000 deaths, placing it as the second worst hit country by the pandemic, after the US.

Globally, the coronavirus has infected more than 177 million people and killed over 3.82 million.

Source: The Pioneer
Photo source: Economic Times, Indian Express