What is a ‘Double Mutant’ virus?
Health Ministry has confirmed that, “double mutant” coronavirus variant which comes with the combination of mutations has been found in India. Scientists are checking if this has increased the infectivity or is making COVID-19 more severe.
Genome sequencing of virus sample by Indian SARS-CoV-2 Consortium on Genomics (INSACOG), a consortium of 10 labs in India, reveals the presence of two mutations, E484Q and L452R, in some 200 virus samples from Maharashtra, Delhi, Punjab and Gujarat.
Double Mutant Variant
Two mutations have been identified individually in other variants of SARS-CoV-2 in several parts of the world. They have been associated with reduction in vaccine efficacy and infectivity. Combined effect and biological implication of the variant is yet to be understood.
Vaccine Efficacy on Double Mutant Variant
India has not yet conducted studies on efficacy of vaccine is influenced by variants. However, international studies have shown reduced efficacy of vaccines like Pfizer, Moderna and Novavax on some variants of SARS-CoV-2.
Variants of Concerns
Three global Variants of Concerns; U.K. variant (B.1.1.7), South African variant (B.1.351) and Brazilian (P.1) lineage; have been identified across the globe. These variants of concerns have been identified in 10,787 samples from international passengers. 771 cases of these variants have been identified in 18 States of India. Now, the new ‘double variant’ has been submitted to be categorised under formal lineage. Double Variant will have its own name.
Variants under investigation
N440K mutation, a variant under investigation, is associated with immune escape and it has been found in 123 samples so far. This mutation was earlier found in 33% of samples from Andhra Pradesh. This has also been reported from 16 other countries like Denmark, Singapore, U.K., Japan and Australia.