Indian SARS-CoV-2 variant B.1.617.2—Part 1

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Indian SARS-CoV-2 variant B.1.617.2—Part 1


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On 7 May 2021, the UK flagged the Indian variant B. 1. 617.2. as a variant of concern (VOC) from its earlier designation of only variant of interest (VOI).
Dr. Rohan Bandi, Dental Tribune South Asia

By Dr. Rohan Bandi, Dental Tribune South Asia

Tue. 11 May 2021


This is a series of updates by Dr. Rohan Bandi, a prosthodontist from Mumbai, on the emerging updates on B.1.617.2 the Indian variant of SARS-CoV-2.

In December 2020, different scientific departments of India came together to set up the Indian SARS-CoV-2 Consortium on Genomics (INSACOG), which aims to identify variants of concern through sequencing of the SARS-CoV-2 RNA.

In March 2021, INSACOG identified a variant that was not reported elsewhere globally (although a similar variant was also discovered in October 2020). The variant had two changes in the string of the SARS-CoV-2 RNA sequence, which are thought to make it a variant that needs close monitoring. This variant of the SARS-CoV-2, which arose in India, is now termed as the B.1.617. The term has come into use according to the naming criteria of this subtype of the virus, that is, its lineage (earlier had a misnomer of "double mutant"). [1]

In the last two and half months, the B.1.617 lineage has become prevalent in almost all states of India and 19 countries globally, and it is only spreading to more countries.

The UK, on 7 May 2021, flagged the Indian variant B. 1. 617.2. as a Variant of concern (VOC) from its earlier designation of variant of interest (VOI ).

The new designation came in as multiple clusters of cases of the Indian variant (B. 1. 617) were detected in many pockets across the UK. Many of these cases had no travel history to India, so the possibility of the virus having community spread and increased transmissibility is very real.

The lineage has been assigned a VOC clearly because of increased transmission, and as per assessment, it is AT LEAST as much transmissible as B.1.1.7 (Kent) variant.

Dr. Deepti Gurdasani, a clinical epidemiologist and senior lecturer at the Queen Mary University of London, said the variant was "increasing very rapidly" and that "at the current doubling rate it could easily become dominant in London by the end of May or early June."

One such cluster where 15 cases of B.1.617.2 were found in one London care home where residents had their second doses of the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine in the week before the outbreak.

Four of the cases were hospitalized with a non-severe illness, and there were no deaths. [2]

Children from 5 schools among Israel's 41 cases of Indian COVID strain B.1.617, in individuals without travel history, indicating community spread. 10% of the infected were fully vaccinated. [3]

Keeping it out will not be easy, says Tom Wenseleers (@TWenseleers), Professor of Biology and biostatistics at
KU_Leuven Belgium.

Twenty out of 43 Indian students arrived with a B.1.617.2 infection after a negative Rt-PCR test before departure and another negative antigen test in Charles de Gaulle airport in Paris. Eight out of 20 were vaccinated.

Editorial note: With inputs from Dr Ameet Revankar (MDS, Orthodontics), SDM College of Dental Sciences & Hospital, Sattur, Dharwad. A list of references is available from the publisher.

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