Health Ministry team to meet on mutant variant of coronavirus

A paramedic takes a nasal swab sample to conduct Rapid Antigen Test in Srinagar on December 20, 2020.   | Photo Credit: Nissar Ahmad

The Health Ministry has called a meeting of its joint monitoring group (JMG) on COVID-19 on Monday to discuss the emergence of a mutant variant of the coronavirus in the UK, which has reportedly led to a surge in infection rates there.

The JMG, chaired by the Director General of Health Services (DGHS), is also likely to speak with WHO's India representative, Dr Roderico H Ofrin, also a member of the JMG.

Also read: Coronavirus | Pandemic lessons from IIT-Madras

The mutant variety that has spread rapidly in the UK, has prompted several European nations to ban flights to and from Britain, even as the British government warned that the potent new strain was “out of control” and imposed a stringent new stay-at-home lockdown from Sunday.

“The SARS-CoV-2 virus has been undergoing constant mutation but this new variant seems to be more virulent. It may cause additional harm as it attaches itself to the integrin of the cell leading to increased cellular inflammation and health complications,” said Prof. N.K. Ganguly, former director general, ICMR.

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“Information on the virus is limited at the moment and it is unclear if the current crop of vaccines in use and those under development will offer protection. The way for us to get ahead is to carry out molecular sequencing of the virus, as was done for poliovirus, to get more information on its epidemiology and spread. It is also crucial to pursue smart testing and tracing to track the spread and contain the variant at its place of origin so that it does not reach vulnerable communities,” said Prof Ganguly.

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Printable version | Jun 13, 2021 6:01:08 AM |

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