New Delhi: Fifty-one cases of Delta Plus variant of the coronavirus have been detected across 12 states in the country, with Maharashtra reporting the highest number of 22, the Centre said on Friday, stressing that there are still very limited cases of this mutation and it cannot be inferred that it is showing an upward trend.
These 51 cases were detected from over 45,000 samples sequenced so far in the country.
Sujeet Singh, Director of the National Centre for Disease Control (NCDC), said 22 cases of Delta Plus variant have been found in Maharashtra, followed by nine in Tamil Nadu, seven in Madhya Pradesh, three in Kerala, two each in Punjab and Gujarat, and one case each in Andhra Pradesh, Odisha, Rajasthan, Jammu and Kashmir, Haryana and Karnataka.
"There are very limited number of cases of this mutation (Delta Plus). In India, there are very limited cases (of Delta Plus). There are nearly 50 cases that are found in 12 districts and this has happened in the last three months. It cannot be said that in any district, state it is showing an increasing trend. Till the time we don't correlate this we will not say this is a rising trend because its mutations are the same as Delta variant," Sujeet Singh told a media briefing of the health ministry.
There was some variance in the figures in the slides presented at the briefing but officials confirmed later that the total cases of the Delta Plus variant detected so far stand at 51 across 12 states.
So the transmission potential in the Delta variant can also found in the Delta Plus variant, he added.
The NCDC is among the 10 institutes involved in genome sequencing of the coronavirus in the country.
Sujeet Singh said the Delta Plus variant signifies the Delta variant with an additional mutation -- B.1.617.2.1. This specifically refers to the acquisition of the K417N genetic variant in the background of Variant of Concern (VoC) Delta (B.1.617.2).
He said K417N is of public significance as this mutation is also present in the Variant of Concern Beta (B.1.351).
He said the Delta Plus variant is denoted by a plus sign. "This does not mean...that severity of transmission is more or lead to more severe disease. If scientific evidence does (suggest) that then we will definitely let you know," he said.
Sujeet Singh added that since the Delta variant is already a VoC, its sub-lineage can also be called a VoC.
Talking about the Delta Plus variant, Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) Director-General Balaram Bhargava said it is present now in 12 countries, and in India, it has been found in 12 states, but they are very localised.
"Delta Plus variant has also been isolated and cultured at ICMR-NIV and laboratory tests to check vaccine effect on Delta Plus variant. We should have these results in 7-10 days'' time whether the vaccine is working against the Delta plus," he added.
Sujeet Singh said Andhra Pradesh, Delhi, Haryana, Kerala, Maharashtra, Punjab, Telangana, and West Bengal have Delta variants in more than 50 per cent of the samples sequenced.
"After that, we came to a conclusion that exponential surge during the second wave was to a large extent driven by this variant. Ninety per cent of the cases (of the samples sequenced) are being driven by B.1.617.2 (Delta) variant of SARS-CoV2," he said.
He said coronavirus variants of concern have been found in 174 districts in 35 states and union territories with the highest number of such cases seen in Maharashtra, Delhi, Punjab, Telangana, West Bengal and Gujarat.
The proportion of COVID-19 cases with variants of concern rose from 10.31 per cent in May 2021 to 51 per cent on June 20, 2021, he added.
Balaram Bhargava also asserted that both the COVID-19 vaccines -- Covishield and Covaxin -- work against SARS-CoV-2 variants like Alpha, Beta, Gamma, and Delta.
He added that the second wave of COVID-19 is not yet over in the country as 75 districts still have more than 10 per cent prevalence and 92 districts have 5-10 per cent prevalence of the coronavirus.