ITANAGAR, 15 May: The Indian Council of Medical Research’s (ICMR) Regional Medical Research Centre (RMRC) in Dibrugarh, Assam, has identified the B.1.617.2 variant of SARS-COV2 in Arunachal in DNA sequencing results of six Covid-19 samples sent by Tomo Riba Institute of Health & Medical Sciences (TRIHMS).
A total of 15 samples were sent to the National Institute of Biomedical Genomics (NIBMG) in Kolkata, and 10 samples to the RMRC in Dibrugarh.
Among the 10 samples processed by the ICMR-RMRC, six were suitable for sequencing.
All six samples were identified with the B.1.617 variant of SARS-COV2, also called the Indian strain/double variant.
The variant has been found prevalent largely in Maharashtra and Delhi that have been severely hit by the devastating second wave of the pandemic.
“The B.1.617.2 seems more transmissible by looking at experiences of Delhi and Maharashtra. The more people are infected, the more will be the mortality. The B.1.617.2 variant found in Arunachal Pradesh has L452R &T478k spike protein,” informed TRIHMS PRO Dr Jego Ori.
“The only way to escape Covid-19 infection now is to strictly follow Covid-19 appropriate behaviour,” he said.
The report on the 15 samples sent to the NIBMG in Kolkata is still awaited.
Principal Health Secretary Dr Sharat Chauhan informed that the samples were taken at random from cases detected in the Itanagar capital region.
“These are random samples. There were no specific people or samples that the health department chose to get tested. The more the virus transmits, the more chances of it mutating further, which is why we keep pressing on the need to break the chain of transmission. Over 30,000 mutations have already been observed and recorded, out of which these six are variants of concern,” he said.
“It has been a year and a half since the pandemic started last year. Several characteristics of the virus and the disease are still unknown. These are mutants of concern as more study and research are required. One of the characteristics of the mutant variant is that it is faster spreading. The variant has led to an increase of four to five times of cases across the country as compared to last year’s peak. The surge of the variant is rapid and spreads from individual to large clusters,” the principal secretary said.
Stating that “it is a once-in-a-generation pandemic,” Dr Chauhan sought the support of everyone in dispelling misinformation and taking Covid appropriate measures seriously, such as maintaining physical distance, and respiratory and hand hygiene.
“Strictly wear a mask, especially in poorly ventilated spaces, and when your personal space is occupied by others around you,” he added.