Union Health Ministry on Tuesday advised Maharashtra, Kerala and Madhya Pradesh on Delta plus variant of Covid-19 after 16 out of 22 cases reported in the country were reported from these states.
Union Health Secretary Rajesh Bhushan at a press briefing had underlined that the Delta plus variant is currently a “variant of interest” and has not yet been classified as a “variant of concern”. Cases of the Delta plus variant have been detected in Maharashtra’s Ratnagiri and Jalgaon and parts of Kerala and Madhya Pradesh.
The Centre directed the states to take up immediate containment measures, enhanced testing, tracking and vaccination in districts and clusters where the Delta plus variant was found.
Samples of the infected persons are to be promptly sent to designated laboratories of INSACOG so that the clinical epidemiological correlations can be made, the government said. INSACOG, or Indian SARS-CoV-2 Consortium on Genomics, was set up to conduct genome sequencing of the coronavirus.
INSACOG has 28 laboratories and they have sequenced 45,000 samples, of which 22 cases of delta plus variant have been found, Union Health Secretary Rajesh Bhushan said. “The labs of INSACOG bring this information to the notice of Health Ministry which then in timely and prompt manner indicates to the concerned states what are the activities that have to be initiated to curb the spread. The public health response is standardised for the variants,” he said.
Delta variant has been detected in 80 countries around the world, including India and it is a variant of concern. The Delta plus variant has been detected in nine countries besides India. These are – US, UK, Portugal, Switzerland, Japan, Poland, Nepal, China and Russia.
While the Delta plus remains a variant of interest, the Delta virus has been identified as Delta of Concern. Explaining the differences, Bhushan said, “Any variant’s transmissibility and virulence decides whether it is a variant of concern or interest. Delta variant is found in 80 countries around the world, including India and it is a variant of concern.”
However, he said both the Indian vaccines, Covishield and Covaxin, are “broadly” effective against the Delta variant. “Broadly speaking, both the Indian vaccines — Covishield and Covaxin — are effective against Delta variant but to what extent and what is the proportion of antibody titers they produce, that information we would very shortly share.”