New Delhi: Delta plus has now become a “variant of concern” in India. So far, according to the Union Health Ministry, the cases of Delta plus variant of novel coronavirus has been detected in three states of the country including Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh and Kerala.Also Read - Jharkhand Govt Issues New Guidelines For Containment Of COVID-19 As Cases Rise

In view of this, the government has directed states to take up immediate containment measures in clusters where the variant has been detected. In an advisory issued by the Health Ministry, Union Health Secretary Rajesh Bhushan said the Delta Plus variant has been detected in 22 samples across six districts in the country. “In India, Delta Plus variant has been detected in 22 samples. Sixteen of them have found in Jalgaon and Ratnagiri districts in Maharashtra; the remaining have been detected in Kerala (Palakkad and Pathanamthitta) and Madhya Pradesh (Bhopal and Shivpuri)… But we don’t want this to assume significant proportions,” he said. Also Read - Covid-19: Centre Extends Insurance Scheme for Health Workers for Another 180 Days

What is Delta Plus Variant?

World Health Organisation, last month, tagged B.1.617.2 strain as the ‘Delta’ variant of SARS-CoV-2. Now, the “Delta” variant has further mutated to form the ‘Delta plus’ or ‘AY.1’ variant. Well, according to the reports, the initial data suggests that the Delta plus variant shows signs of resistance against the monoclonal antibody cocktail treatment. This treatment for Covid-19 was recently authorised by the Central Drugs Standard Control Organisation (CDSCO). Also Read - Present Evidence Does Not Suggest That it is 'XE' Variant of Covid19, Say Reports

Experts consider Delta Plus variant or B.1.617.2.1 a major contributor to the deadly second wave of Covid-19 in India. Like Delta, the Delta Plus variant has mutation in the spike protein region of the RNA virus, which potentially makes it more transmissible.

3 Key Characteristics of Delta Plus Variant in India to Watch Out For

The health ministry has identified three characteristics of the Delta Plus variant:

  • Increased transmissibility
  • Stronger binding to receptors of lung cells
  • Potential reduction in monoclonal antibody response

The chief secretaries of all the three states have been advised to take up immediate containment measures in the districts and clusters, including preventing crowds and intermingling of people, widespread testing, prompt tracing as well as vaccine coverage on a priority basis.

Furthermore, 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.

Notably, the clusters of the variant has been identified by the Indian SARS-CoV-2 Genomics Consortium or INSACOG. The government has advised the states that their samples are sent to designated laboratories of INSACOG so that it can provide guidance based on the clinical epidemiological correlations.

So far, 22 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.

Union health secretary Rajesh Bhushan also said there has been an almost 90 per cent decline in India’s daily Covid-19 cases as compared to the highest peak reported on May 7.

On Wednesday, India reported 50,848 fresh cases and 1,358 deaths, with the daily positivity rate at 2.67%. The country’s active caseload has declined to 6,43,194.