UK health authorities have said that two variants have been found with B. 1.617 lineage which is also known as the Indian variant of the coronavirus. It is a variant that is under investigation at the moment. Till now, 400 coronavirus cases have been reported in UK with B.1.617 variant.
In the month of March, double mutant variant has been detected in India for the first time. However, there are other variants also that have been raising concerns in 18 states of India.
So, what is a variant and how it emerges?
One or more mutation can be seen with the virus variant. It may be a little different than other variants present. Most of these mutations are harmful in nature. Some of them make it easy for the virus to survive. Coronavirus has been evolving in a rapid rate as it has managed to infect millions of people all over the world. Due to high level of circulation, it has got power to alter and replicate faster.
Indian variant comes with two mutations and they are known as E484Q and L452R. Separately, both of them can be found in various variants of coronavirus. However, they have been found together for the first time in India. Now, the variant has been classified as VOI by World Health Organization also. L452R mutation has been located in some other VOI also. It is believed that this mutation makes the virus more transmissible. It may able override the neutralizing antibodies also.
Studies have also shown that E484Q mutation can reduce the neutralizing effect.
How classification of coronavirus is done?
Public Health England has said that coronavirus variants have increased concerns of the experts due to its pathogenic, immunological and epidemiological properties. Therefore, formal investigation on this matter has started.
The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has divided the variants in three categories. They are usually known as variant of interest, variant of concern and variant of high consequence.
By CDC, VOI is defined as “A variant with specific genetic markers that have been associated with changes to receptor binding, reduced neutralization by antibodies generated against previous infection or vaccination, reduced efficacy of treatments, potential diagnostic impact, or predicted increase in transmissibility or disease severity.”
Later on, it has been added “A variant for which there is evidence of an increase in transmissibility, more severe disease (e.g., increased hospitalizations or deaths), significant reduction in neutralization by antibodies generated during previous infection or vaccination, reduced effectiveness of treatments or vaccines, or diagnostic detection failures”
In US, variant of high consequence has not been found yet.