Triple-mutant ‘Bengal strain’ might be more deadly and resistant to existing vaccines
Published: 12:35 PM, 24 April 2021 Updated: 09:55 PM, 24 April 2021
Amid the second major wave of COVID-19 cases, the scientists in India found a new mutation known as the "triple-mutant" in West Bengal, raising new fears, Times of India reported.
Apart from West Bengal, scientists found two triple-mutant varieties in patient samples in three other states: Maharashtra, Delhi and Chhattisgarh.
Researchers dubbed the new mutant "Bengal strain" and said it might be more infective, and - something that experts find particularly worrying - may be capable of escaping a person’s immune surveillance, even if that person was earlier exposed to a virus without this mutation, and even if vaccinated.
However, there has been no scientific research yet to either corroborate or dismiss the fears.
Researchers have labelled this new mutant as B.1.618 which is a combined form of three different Covid-19 strains.
Vinod Scaria, a researcher at the CSIR-Institute of Genomics and Integrative Biology (IGIB) in India, wrote on Twitter, "The proportion of B.1.618 has been growing significantly in recent months in Bengal,”
“Along with B.1.617 it forms a major lineage in Bengal,” he added.
The IGIB is part of the Indian SARS-Cov-2 Genomic Consortia (INSACOG), which was set up to monitor and study whether Indians were getting foreign variants through travellers. It was during these studies that the double mutant variant (containing the E484Q and L452R mutations) was identified, mainly from Maharashtra samples.
What’s worrying scientists is that the triple-mutated variant carries the E484K mutation, a characteristic of the South African and Brazilian variants, which is known to be an immune escape variant.
“In other words, you may not be safe from this variant even if you had previously been infected by another strain, or even if you have been vaccinated,” said Sreedhar Chinnaswamy of the National Institute of Biomedical Genomics.
- Times of India, Business Insider