Delta variant of coronavirus mutates to ‘Delta Plus’, why you don’t need to panic


oi-Deepika S


Update: Tuesday, June 15, 2021, 10:01 a.m. [IST]

New Delhi, June 15: The delta variant was the fourth addition to a list that also includes variants first identified in the UK, South Africa and Brazil, blamed for the disastrous second wave of coronavirus infections in India.

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The super infectious Delta variant (B.1.617.2) of SARS-CoV-2 mutated again to form the “Delta plus” or “AY.1” variant, raising fears that these viruses could evade the immune response.

However, health experts said there was no immediate cause for concern in India as its incidence in the country is still low. Scientists have suggested that two doses of the vaccine, putting on masks and implementing the appropriate Covid standards would help fight the virus.

Studies suggest that the Delta plus variant shows signs of resistance against monoclonal antibody cocktail treatment, which was recently cleared by the Central Drugs Standard Control Organization (CDSCO) in Inida.

What is the Delta Plus or AY.1 COVID-19 variant

The Covid B.1.617.2.1 variant also known as AY.1 characterized by the acquisition of the K417N mutation and the mutation is found in the SARS-COV-2 spike protein, which helps the virus enter and infecting human cells.

The Delta plus variant was present in six Indian genomes as of June 7. So far, 63 Delta genomes (B.1.617.2) with the new K417N mutation have been identified to date as part of the global science initiative GISAID.

The Delta plus variant is mainly found in Europe, not India

In fact, Delta Plus variants are mostly found in Europe, Asia, and America with the exception of India. The first sequence of this genome was discovered in Europe at the end of March of this year.

Delta plus discovered he escaped monoclonal antibody treatment

An important point to consider regarding K417N is the “evidence suggesting resistance to the monoclonal antibodies Casirivimab and Imdevimab”. Monoclonal antibodies, which were seen as a viable treatment for Covid-19, have been touted as a game-changer in the fight against the pandemic.

Monoclonal antibody (mAb or moAb) is an antibody made by cloning a single white blood cell. All subsequent antibodies derived in this way can be traced back to a single mother cell.

The researchers revealed that the use of mAb is the main innovative approach that could prevent and treat infected patients. Several researchers are focusing on the development of new treatments based on specific mAbs to inhibit and / or neutralize SARS-CoV-2 in COVID-19 patients.

Casirivimab and imdevimab are monoclonal antibodies specifically directed against the SARS-CoV-2 spike protein and designed to block the uptake and entry of the virus into human cells.

The transmissibility of the new variant is a crucial factor

Allaying fears, immunologist Vineeta Bal noted that while there may be some setback in the use of the commercial antibody cocktail due to the new variant, resistance to treatment is not an indication of ‘increased virulence or severity of a disease.

“The degree of transmissibility of this new variant will be a crucial factor in determining whether or not it spreads rapidly,” Bal, visiting professor at the Indian Institute of Science Education and Research, Pune, told PTI.

She also noted that the quality and quantity of neutralizing antibodies, responsible for cell defense against pathogens, generated in the individual infected with the new variant is unlikely to be affected due to the mutation.

“So, in people infected with the new variant, this may not be an issue worth worrying about,” she added.

Pulmonologist and medical researcher Anurag Agrawal agrees.

“At this time, there is no reason to be concerned about the new variant in India,” Agrawal, director of CSIR-IGIB, told PTI.

Plasma from vaccinated people should be tested

The scientist said that the blood plasma of many fully vaccinated individuals will need to be tested against this variant to determine if it exhibits a significant immune breakout. As the Delta variant continues to evolve and acquire new mutations, there is a lot of interest in understanding its evolution.

He said that SARS-CoV-2 has an almost constant rate of acquisition of genetic variants, and that each variant has acquired additional variants in a gradual manner.

“Understanding this continuing evolution is of great importance for mapping the evolutionary landscape of emerging variants. The virus has largely attempted to optimize transmission and immune evasion through the gradual acquisition of new mutations,” he said. -he adds.

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