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“Double Mutant” COVID Virus Variant Found

What is the News?

Indian SARS-CoV-2 Consortium on Genomics (INSACOG) has been doing genome sequencing of Covid-19 Variants. It has found a unique “double mutant” virus variant in India. This variant has a unique combination of mutations, not seen anywhere else in the world.

What is Double Mutation?
  • Double Mutation is when two mutated strains of a virus come together and form a third strain.
  • The one reported in India is the result of the combination of E484Q, and L452R strains. The L452R strain is found in California in the United States, while, the E484Q strain is indigenous.
Is this double Mutant COVID Variant Harmful?
  • Mutation in the virus is a normal process. But some mutations help the virus in defending itself from vaccines or antibodies or linking to a spike in cases.
  • However, the capability of double mutant coronavirus variant in increased infectivity or in making COVID-19 more severe is still uncertain.
  • Hence, INSACOG will submit details of this variant to a global repository called GISAID. If it qualifies, it will be classified as a “variant of concern”(VOC).
  • Variant of concerns requires appropriate public health actions, such as
    • Notification to WHO under the International Health Regulations,
    • reporting to CDC,
    • local or regional efforts to control spread,
    • increased testing, or research to determine the effectiveness of vaccines and treatments against the variant

Note: So far, only three global Variants of Concern (VOCs) have been identified: the U.K. variant (B.1.1.7), the South African (B.1.351) and the Brazilian (P.1) lineage.

About INSACOG:
  • Indian SARS-CoV-2 Consortium on Genomics(INSACOG) is a grouping of 10 National Laboratories. It was established by the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare(MoH&FW).
  • Aim:
    • Firstly, to monitor the genomic variations in the SARS-CoV-2 on a regular basis through a multi-laboratory network.
    • Secondly, to ascertain the status of a new variant of SARS-CoV-2 in the country.
    • Furthermore, to establish a surveillance system for early detection of genomic variants and determine the genomic variants in the unusual events/trends.
  • Coordinated by: The Department of Biotechnology (DBT) along with MoH&FW, ICMR, and CSIR coordinate it.
  • Significance: The knowledge generated through this vital research consortium assists in developing diagnostics and potential therapeutics and vaccines in the future.
Global Initiative on Sharing All Influenza Data(GISAID) Initiative
  • The GISAID Initiative was launched on the occasion of the 61st World Health Assembly in 2008.
  • In 2010, Germany became the official host of the GISAID Initiative through a public-private partnership.
  • Aim: It aims to promote rapid sharing of data of all influenza and COVID virus sequences globally. Moreover, it helps to understand, how the viruses evolve, spread, and potentially become pandemics.
  • Headquarters: Munich, Germany.

Source: The Hindu

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