International researchers believe that this variant is typically of Indian origin. As a result, researchers and media houses from around the world are now targeting Vidarbha; some even visited Nagpur while training the new “Indian variety”. “It’s different from the UK, or Africa or Brazil variant that were discussed at the start of this wave,” said infectious disease specialist Dr. Nitin Shinde, who has received inquiries from many international researchers and journalists about the second wave in India. .
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“Many countries, including the UK, have imposed a travel ban to India. This is because a specific variant of the virus – B.1.617 – is becoming more common, ”said Dr. Shinde. He believes the Amravati rise was also due to this variant, although this needs to be confirmed with more research.
According to data shared by the eGlobal Initiative on Sharing All Influenza Data (GSAID), B.1.617 was first found in samples collected in the country in December 2020. They have data on genome sequencing of Indian samples through April 3 this year. Until then, this variant was visible in 29% of the samples in India.
GSAID is recognized by G20 health ministers for its importance to global health. In 2020, the WHO called this data science initiative “a game changer” with regard to the pandemic.
Dr. Atul Gawande, from Umarkhed in the Yavatmal district of Vidarbha and currently a member of US President Joe Biden’s Covid-19 control advisory team, has also expressed concern about this variant, calling it “extremely frightening.” “I see this variant going through entire households of my family in India. Whether it is more deadly and whether vaccines work well against it remains unclear, ”he said.
As noted by Dr. Gawande, this variant has been observed, especially in Vidarbha, to infect entire families, unlike its predecessors in the September 2020 wave. This means that the virus is significantly more contagious, he says. But whether it is deadly or not remains to be investigated. The variant is currently being “investigated”. It is still not classed as a “variant of concern”, but scientists have recognized it as a “variant of interest”. According to a first study by virology researcher Grace Roberts of Queen’s University, Belfast, this variant is estimated to be about 20% more transmissible than the previous form of the coronavirus that circulated during the first wave.
However, health ministry officials said the increase in the number of cases is not related to the variant, as B.1.617 has not been detected in large enough quantities to determine whether it is directly responsible. However, experts believe this may be due to a lack of data, and many have stressed the importance of increasing the virus sequence to get a better picture.