New Delhi | Jagran News Desk: Amid the concerns over the detection of Delta Plus variant in COVID-19 patients in several parts of the country, the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) and the Pune-based National Institute of Virology (NIV) have started conducting a study to see whether the existing COVID-19 vaccine in India can neutralise the new and more potent variant of the coronavirus.

As per the official data, the Delta Plus variant has been found in 40 COVID-19 patients in the country so far. Delta Plus cases have been found in Maharashtra's Ratnagiri and Jalgaon, Kerala's Palakkad and Pathanamthitta and Madhya Pradesh's Bhopal and Shivpuri

The study, which will be conducted by NIV Pune and ICMR is likely to involve Covaxin and Covishield vaccines as the two vaccines are currently used in India to inoculates its population against the deadly virus.

Terming the Delta Plus variant a concern, Dr Pragya Yadav, head of the NIV's Maximum Containment Facility, said that the new mutation has possible increased transmissibility and resistance to monoclonal antibody treatment.

"The newly emerged Delta Plus variant has possible increased transmissibility, higher binding capacity to the lung cells and resistance to monoclonal antibody treatment. Looking at this scenario, Delta Plus variant could be a concern, and a high watch should be undertaken and containment of affected zone should be done reduce the transmission," said Dr Pragya Yadav said as quoted by news agency ANI.

Asked whether existing vaccines can fight against the Delta Plus variant, she said that samples have been collected and a study is being carried out.

"As per earlier data concerning Delta variant, neutralization was happening with the existing vaccines in India. Though neutralization has dropped, it's enough to protect against Delta variant. Delta Plus should also behave (in a similar manner). We are working in this direction. We have isolated this variant and we are going to conduct a study soon. We will come back with the study," she said.

All Delta sub-lineages are treated as variants of concern (VOC) and properties of AY.1 are still being investigated. Delta Plus is also known as 'AY.1' variant or B.1.617.2.1 The variant frequency of AY.1 is low in India. Cases with AY.1 have been mostly reported from nine countries of Europe, Asia and America.

Meanwhile, around 40 cases of the Delta plus variant, classified as a variant of concern (VOC), have been detected sporadically in Maharashtra, Kerala and Madhya Pradesh. Delta variant as well as all Delta sub-lineages including Delta plus are classified as the 'variant of concern' (VOC).

"As of now among the samples sequenced (45000+) in India, Delta plus variant -- AY.1 --has been observed sporadically in Maharashtra, Kerala and Madhya Pradesh, with around 40 cases identified so far and no significant increase in prevalence," the ministry said in its statement.

Posted By: Talibuddin Khan