With 50% cases, Telangana & Andhra Pradesh reeling under | Sidnaz Blog

Sidnaz Blog

HYDERABAD: A novel coronavirus variant, currently crippling Maharashtra, has made its way to the two Telugu states and could be the reason behind the surge in cases in the past two months. April Covid data shows Maharashtra’s double mutant B.1.617 dominated Covid-19 scenario and found in about 50-60% cases in the two Telugu states, Kerala and Karnataka.
The rogue B.1.36 (N440K) strain of the novel coronavirus, which had dominated positive cases in Telangana and Andhra Pradesh till February 2021, has now given way to two more variants of concern (VoC) — UK strain B.1.1.7 and double mutant B.1.617, point out scientists of city-based Centre for Cellular and Molecular Biology (CCMB). While B.1.1.7 is known to have increased Covid-19 cases in Punjab and Kerala, the so-called double mutant is dominant in Maharashtra.
The latest data, posted by Global Initiative on Sharing Avian Flu Data (GISAID) on the variants of novel coronavirus in Andhra Pradesh, Telangana and Karnataka, shows that B.1.617 represented in about 50% cases registered during March, while B.1.1.7 showed up in about 10% cases. The percentage of N440K came down to less than 10% from the peak of about 70% in February. At the same time, the presence of B.1 lineage went up to around 10 or 12% during March.
Major variants like B.1.1.7, B.1 and N440K were also noticed in significant numbers. Other variants in circulation since March 2020 made up 10%.
Commenting on the decline of N440K variant in Telangana and Andhra Pradesh, former CCMB director Dr Rakesh Kumar Mishra said: “The N440K variant is diminishing and likely to disappear soon”.
Divya Tej Sowpati, CCMB senior scientist, who specialises in genome sequencing, told TOI that the variant B.1.617 was found in around 50% cases in southern states as per the recent data from AP, Telangana and Karnataka, while B.1.1.7 was mostly predominant in Kerala, logging around 30% cases there.
“Lineages with N440K are not the dominant ones in the second wave of Covid-19 in India. While N440K was indeed mutation of concern in south India during and after the first wave, current data shows it is essentially replaced by B.1.617 and B.1.1.7 variants,” Divya Tej said.
He said when comparing the data from Maharashtra, one can see that the increase in B.1.617 was observed in February itself, and again a reduction in N440K.
“This coincides well with the second wave seen in the respective states. In Maharashtra, the second wave started almost a month and a half earlier compared to the four southern states, along with the explosion of B.1.617 at the expense of N440K,” Divya Tej said
Referring to the study that N440K was 10 times more infectious than its parent strain, he said it is important to remember that just because a variant behaves a certain way in cell cultures (with no competition, and in controlled settings), it does not mean it would behave the same way in humans, or in a complicated pandemic scenario.

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