The government of India has declared a new coronavirus variant, locally called “Delta plus,” a variant of concern after it was found in dozens of cases reported in three states.
In an advisory on Tuesday, India’s Union Ministry of Health said the presence of the Delta plus variant was detected in certain districts of Maharashtra, Kerala and Madhya Pradesh.
“Union Health Secretary has communicated to these three states this variant has been found in genome sequenced samples from Ratnagiri and Jalgaon Districts of Maharashtra; Palakkad and Pathanamthitta Districts of Kerala; and Bhopal and Shivpuri Districts of Madhya Pradesh,” the ministry said.
The ministry said that based on recent findings, the Delta plus variant has showed the following characteristics:
• Increased transmissibility
• Stronger binding to receptors of lung cells
• Potential reduction in monoclonal antibody response
Twenty-two cases of the Delta Plus variant of the coronavirus have been detected in India, with 16 of them being reported from Maharashtra and the remaining from Madhya Pradesh and Kerala, according to the government.
The health ministry also said that India is among the nine countries where the Delta Plus variant has been detected. It said that the variant has been detected in the US, UK, Portugal, Switzerland, Japan, Poland, Nepal, China and Russia.
The Delta plus is a mutated version of the Delta variant, first found in India.
With this development, the ministry advised the three states to take up immediate containment measures in the districts and clusters, including preventing crowds & intermingling of people, widespread testing, prompt tracing as well as vaccine coverage on a priority basis.
They were also advised to ensure that adequate samples of positive persons are promptly sent to the designated laboratories of Indian SARS-CoV-2 Genomics Consortium (INSACOG) so that clinical epidemiological correlations can be made for further guidance to be provided to states.
INSACOG is a consortium of 28 laboratories of Ministry of Health & Family Welfare, Dept. of Biotechnology, Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) and Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) for whole genome sequencing in the context of COVID-19 pandemic.
Over the past 24 hours, India reported 42,640 new infections, the lowest since March 23, and 1,167 deaths.
Infections now stand at 29.98 million, with a death toll of 389,302, health ministry data showed.