Hyderabad: Four cases of the COVID-19 Delta Plus variant was detected in the two Telugu-speaking states, the Indian SARS-CoV-2 Genomics Consortium (INSACOG) which monitors the genomic sequencing of SARS-CoV-2 in the country said on Friday.
According to reports, INSACOG has reported 70 confirmed Delta Plus cases in India. The highest number of cases, 23, was reported in Maharashtra followed by 10 in Tamil Nadu, 11 in Madhya Pradesh, and four in Chandigarh. Kerala, that is once again witnessing a high number of cases, reported three and two each were reported in Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Punjab, Gujarat, and Uttar Pradesh. One Delta Plus case each was reported in Himachal Pradesh, Odisha, Rajasthan, Jammu, Haryana, and Uttarakhand.
The genome sequencing was done by 28 laboratories. The scientist sequenced 58,240 samples of SARS-CoV-2 of which 4,172 samples were of Alpha variant and 217 samples were of the Beta variant.
What is Delta Plus variant?
The Union health ministry had notified Delta Plus variant as a "Variant of Concern". It has been detected in nine countries - US, UK, Portugal, Switzerland, Japan, Poland, Russia, and China besides India. There are concerns over whether current vaccines will be effective against Delta Plus.
INSACOG has informed that Delta Plus has the characteristics of increased transmissibility, stronger binding to receptors of lung cells, and potential reduction in monoclonal antibody response.
INSACOG is a consortium of 28 laboratories of the ministry of health and family welfare, department of biotechnology, Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR), and Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) for whole-genome sequencing in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic.
It is not only tasked for genome sequencing but also for giving timely inputs on appropriate public health response measures to be adopted by states and Union Territories.
The Union health ministry had earlier directed the chief secretaries of states to take up immediate containment measures in the districts and clusters (as identified by INSACOG), including preventing crowds and intermingling of people, widespread testing, and 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 INSACOG so that clinical epidemiological correlations can be made for further guidance to be provided to states.
The government said that while the two vaccines being used in India - Serum Institute of India's Covishield and Bharat Biotech's Covaxin - are effective against the Delta variant, data on how they work on Delta Plus would be shared later. "We will share more information with you shortly," said Rajesh Bhushan, the Union health secretary.
However, health experts say the prevalence of this variant is currently low.