The data from Indian SARS-CoV-2 Genomics Consortium (INSACOG) reflects that delta mutant was responsible for 85 percent of covid-19 infections in Jammu and Kashmir recently.
The INSACOG collects a percentage of covid-19-positive samples for analysis from all States and of the nearly 50,000 samples analysed for their genetic composition, about two thirds were among the internationally classified Variant of Concern or Variant of Interest (VoC/VoI).
As per experts, the variant has a high transmissibility and has become the major circulating strain in the past four months.
Since April, data, the delta has replaced most other variants and its share in infections has risen from 12.5 percent to 85 percent now.
First identified in India, the delta variant has already been detected in several countries and continues to spread rapidly amid fears that it is poised to become the dominant strain worldwide. Novel coronaviruses are marked by ‘convergent evolution’. A few defining mutations that emerge in different strains from around the globe start to become more common in subsequent variants.
As per Dr. V.K. Paul, Chairman, National Expert Group on Vaccine Administration of COVID-19, AY.1 was first identified in March in Europe.
Mutation of the viruses is a biological fact and the steps to protect against its exposure must remain the same for all including the novel coronavirus. As has been rightly pointed out by Dr. Paul, it should not be given opportunities to spread.
The call by the experts should be given heed and one well-known reason for multiple waves is the mutation in the genetic code of the coronavirus. Slow vaccination pace gives it more time to mutate and find ways to evade or trick antibodies. This accelerates the appearance of new variants as the continued spread of the virus allows it to get trained to detect and bypass antibodies, since the immune system merely looks out for the original strain.
Whether or not SARS-CoV-2 becomes a part of the human ecosystem marked by being less contagious amid vaccination and use of masks, lockdowns, remains unknown and difficult to predict. However, unlike pandemics of the past, in the present times, there is presence of rapid genome sequencing. There is already infrastructure and the resources to track threatening mutations and as such it should be a continuous process to find and explore.
While variant remains to be a cause of concern, vaccination must be increased so as to prevent hospitalisation and mortality.