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Coronavirus: How dangerous is ‘double-mutant’ found in the US after India

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Aakash Molpariya
Aakash started in Nov 2018 as a writer at Revyuh.com. Since joining, as writer, he is mainly responsible for Software, Science, programming, system administration and the Technology ecosystem, but due to his versatility he is used for everything possible. He writes about topics ranging from AI to hardware to games, stands in front of and behind the camera, creates creative product images and much more. He is a trained IT systems engineer and has studied computer science. By the way, he is enthusiastic about his own small projects in game development, hardware-handicraft, digital art, gaming and music. Email: aakash (at) revyuh (dot) com

A new variant of the covid-19, known as ‘double mutant’, was treated in the San Francisco Bay Area and is considered to be the first of its kind detected in the US.

The variant, according to some experts is responsible for a new spike in India’s COVID-19 infection cases, is known as a double mutation.

According to Dr. Dean Winslow from Stanford University: “There is no definite evidence that this double variant is more virulent or causes more severe disease.”

About the virus

According to the Indian government, an analysis of the samples collected from the western state of Maharashtra showed “an increase in the fraction of samples with the E484Q and L452R mutations” compared with December last year.

“Such [double] mutations confer immune escape and increased infectivity,” said the health ministry in a statement.

Dr. Jeremy Kamil, a virologist from Louisiana State University Health Sciences Center Shreveport, said that the E484Q variant is almost same as E484K – a mutation detected in the South Africa variant – B.1.351 and Brazlian variant P.1.

He also warns that further mutations happen, it can function differently and may become the ‘variant of concern’.

And the L452R mutation, it received first attention as part of B.1.427/B.1.429 lineage in the US, which is sometimes called the “California variant”, says Dr. Kamil.

Is it dangerous?

“I’m quite surprised about the fact they’ve made so much of it being a double mutant, because so is the South African variant, so is the Brazilian variant and, in fact, so is the Kent variant. Every variant of concern has multiple mutations” says Professor Paul Hunter, an infectious diseases specialist and professor in medicine at the University of East Anglia in the UK.

“No different to the Brazilian and South African variants, albeit with different mutations,” he said.

“The big issue is whether ultimately it starts spreading and replacing pre-existing variants to become the dominant variant, but at the moment it’s a bit too early to say,” he added.

Dr. Rakesh Mishra, director of the Hyderabad-based Centre for Cellular and Molecular Biology (CCMB) said that “One suspicion is that this variant is the cause of India’s second wave of infections. I would say no, 80% of the samples we have sequenced don’t have this combination of mutants. This mutant has been linked to only 230 cases in Maharashtra of the several thousand samples sequenced.”

The combination of the E484Q and L452R mutations would indeed make the variant of concern if it was to become the dominant variant across India. But it’s not.

We need to ensure to keep a track of new mutations and their nature that may suppress the efficacy of the vaccines.

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