Coronavirus | New virus strain increases transmissibility, not severity: V.K. Paul

A 3D-printed coronavirus model. File photo.   | Photo Credit: REUTERS

The new strain of COVID-19 reported in the United Kingdom seems to increase transmissibility and infection rate but the mutation has so far not affected the severity and case fatality of the disease, noted V.K. Paul, Member (Health), NITI Aayog, on Tuesday, speaking at a press conference.

He added that, as of now, the mutation had not been detected in India, and that it had no impact on the potential of the emerging vaccines being developed in India or available internationally. “There is no cause for concern, no need to panic, as of now. But we have to stay vigilant,” he said.


Dr. Paul cautioned that SARS-CoV-2 was a “a smart virus” which changes its behaviour. “The new strain in the U.K. has undergone 17 changes, increasing its transmissibility by 70%. In a way, it has become a super spreader. We are keeping a close watch on the developments and the recently collected virus samples are being prioritised for genetic sequencing,” he explained.

Replying to a question on some passengers who took the London-Delhi Air India flight on Monday having tested positive for COVID-19 upon arrival in India and the precautions in place for more incoming flights, Health Secretary Rajesh Bhushan said that the Union Health Ministry had issued a comprehensive guideline with respect to the passengers who came from, or through, U.K. from November 25 to December 23. “Their lists will be shared with the States/UTs so that their samples are collected for conducting tests. Contact tracing will be done in positive cases,” he said.


Vaccines for emergency use

Speaking about the process of clearing proposed vaccines in India for emergency use, Dr. Paul said that, currently, there were three applications for approval. “Pfizer has not presented its additional data, the other two companies have shared their data and a new set of data has been provided by at least one company. The data is being examined,” he said.

India’s current active case load had falls below 3 lakh

Providing details on the COVID-19 situation in India, Mr. Bhushan said that India’s current active case load had fallen below 3 lakh (2,92,518), which was the lowest in 163 days. The total active cases were 2,92,258 on July 12, 2020, he said, adding that a net decline of 11,121 cases had been recorded in the total active cases in the last 24 hours.


“India’s active cases per million population are amongst the lowest in the world (at 219). The figure is much higher for countries like the U.S.A., Italy, Brazil, Turkey and Russia. In India, 30,376 cases have recovered in the last 24 hours, and new recoveries have been exceeding the new cases continuously since the last 25 days,’’ Mr. Bhushan said.

Data released by the Ministry on Tuesday noted that 75.31% of the new, recovered cases were observed to be concentrated in 10 States/UTs, with Maharashtra reporting the maximum number of single day recoveries at 6,053 recoveries, Kerala following with 4,494 new recoveries, and West Bengal recording another 2,342 daily recoveries.

Kerala has reported the maximum daily new cases numbering 3,423 in the last 24 hours. Maharashtra recorded 2,834 new cases while West Bengal reported 1,515 new cases on Monday, it added.

India has also reported 301 COVID-19 case fatalities in the past 24 hours, with 18.27% of the new fatalities reported from Maharashtra, which has reported 55 deaths. West Bengal and Kerala follow with 41 and 27 new deaths, respectively.

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Printable version | May 13, 2021 6:31:58 AM |

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