The new Delta plus variant has been formed due to a mutation in the Delta or B.1.617.2 variant, first identified in India and one of the drivers of the deadly second wave. The variant of COVID-19 – a version first detected in India – has evolved to form the ‘delta plus’ or AY.1 variant. Scientists say it has acquired a mutation associated with escaping immunity but stress there is “no cause for concern yet.
The central government on Tuesday confirmed that it has detected a mutation in the delta variant of SARS CoV2 virus which has emerged into an additional strain named as Delta Plus.
Confirming that the Delta variant played a crucial role in the second wave of the covid-19 pandemic, the government said that it has submitted the information to the global data system.
It has not yet been classified as a variant of concern, in which there is adverse consequence to humanity. As per data available in the public domain, this variant nullifies the use of monoclonal antibody. We will scientifically study and learn more about this variant. We are studying the strain and its spread and presence in the country.
Though there is no indication yet of the severity of the disease due to the new variant, Delta plus is resistant to the monoclonal antibody cocktail treatment for COVID-19 recently authorised in India. One of the emerging variants is B.1.617.2.1 also known as AY.1 characterized by the acquisition of K417N mutation, Vinod Scaria, clinician and scientist at Delhi’s CSIR-Institute of Genomics and Integrative Biology (IGIB), tweeted on Sunday. The mutation, he said, is in the spike protein of SARS-COV-2, which helps the virus enter and infect the human cells.
The ‘delta plus’ variant is a mutated version of the more aggressive B.1.617.2 strain that drove the second wave of infections in India. It is characterised by the K417N mutation in the spike protein of the SARS-CoV2 virus that causes the COVID-19 disease. The spike protein is what helps the virus enter and infect human cells, and the K417N mutation has been associated with immune escape, or evasion, that leaves it less susceptible, or more immune, to the vaccine or any form of drug therapy.
Similar to antibodies which are proteins that the body naturally produces to defend itself against the disease, monoclonal antibodies are artificially created in a lab and tailor-made to fight the disease they treat. Casirivimab and Imdevimab are monoclonal antibodies that are specifically directed against the spike protein of SARS-CoV-2, and designed to block the virus’ attachment and entry into human cells.
However, there is no cause for concern as reports of the new variant are still low and there is no indication, as yet, about the severity of the disease, Anurag Agrawal, Director of Delhi’s CSIR-Institute of Genomics and Integrative Biology (IGIB), said. He also said blood plasma from a number of fully vaccinated individuals would have to be tested against this variant to establish if it shows any significant level of immune escape.