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South African Covid variant detected in 4 returnees, Brazil variant in 1: ICMR

Four cases with the South African variant of coronavirus have been detected in the country, the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) confirmed on Tuesday.

Shivani Arora

Shivani AroraBy Shivani Arora

Published on 16 Feb 2021 1:45 PM GMT

South African Covid variant detected in 4 returnees, Brazil variant in 1: ICMR
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Four cases with the South African variant of coronavirus have been detected in the country, the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) confirmed on Tuesday.

The South Africa strain was detected in four returnees–one from Angola, one from Tanzania and two from South Africa in January, the ICMR said, adding that all their contacts have been tested and quarantined.

Addressing a media briefing, ICMR DG Dr Balram Bhargava also said that a case of Brazilian variant of SARS-CoV-2 was detected in the first week of February. “The virus strain has been successfully isolated and cultured at ICMR-NIV-Pune. Experiments to assess vaccine effectiveness are underway. South African and Brazilian variants are different from the UK variant,” he said.

South African Covid variant

Bhargava also informed that as many as 187 people have tested positive for the UK variant in India.

The WHO had identified three new variants of coronavirus originating in the UK, Brazil and South Africa. Of the three, the South African variant known as 20H/501Y.V2 or B.1.351, is different from the one in Britain and appears to be more infectious than the original virus.

The South African variant carries a mutation called N501Y that appears to make it more contagious or easy to spread, a report in The New York Times said. The WHO had also said this variant “is less susceptible to antibody neutralisation” than previous variants.

South African researchers, according to a report in The Wall Street Journal. Believe the new strain is around 50 per cent more contagious than the previous variants.

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The variant has become a major cause of worry for the scientists because of its unusually large number of mutations, especially in the spike protein, which the virus uses to gain entry into the cells within the human body. Notably, the spike protein is also part of the virus targeted by Covid-19 vaccines and antibody treatments.

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Shivani Arora

Shivani Arora

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