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Triple Mutant Coronavirus: Is it dangerous? Does it need effective monitoring?

India is battling the deadly second wave of coronavirus, amid all this reports have suggested that a new triple mutant strain has been detected in the country. Nearly three lakh cases and about 2000 deaths have been reported in India, which has seen the biggest jump since the pandemic started. The third mutation has now been identified in at least 4 states. Two of these triple-mutant varieties were found in samples collected from Maharashtra, Delhi, West Bengal and Chhattisgarh. Many believe this new mutation could be the cause of the surge in COVID cases and that it is spreading faster as it may be even more capable of evading human immune response. West Bengal seems to have become a hotspot for the new triple mutant.

What is a mutant strain?

Like all viruses, the coronavirus keeps changing as it passes from one person to another. Hence it has been changing ever since it started. It undergoes mutations that may create what are called as variants. The double mutant was detected long back. It started spreading in November and December. By the month of February, this variant has been exploding especially in Maharashtra. Scientists say the discovery should have been acted upon immediately.

The triple mutant strain of Coronavirus could be more transmissible than the previous variants of COVID that were detected in the country. This variant also makes people fall sick very quickly. Scientists told, “We have to keep tweaking vaccines. For that, we need to understand the disease.”

Most of these mutations aren’t dangerous and don’t alter their behavior. A triple mutant refers to three different variants combined together to form a single variant. At the moment, multiple SARS-CoV-2 Variants are circulating globally.

Is it dangerous? Does it need effective monitoring?

These new variants could be more infectious and can cause more severe damage to body or even evade the effects of vaccine. Some of the possible consequences:

  1. Transmissibility: One of the mutations named D614G could apparently spread quicker than the SARS-CoV-2. There’s also evidence that 614G variant can spread more quick than viruses without mutation.
  2. Severity: UK has reported that the B.1.1.7 variant has more death risk factor than other variants.
  3. Ability to evade detection by diagnostic tests: Most of the commercial reverse-transcription polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) tests have different targets to detect the virus. So, if one of the targets is impacted by the mutation, others will still work.
  4. Impact on vaccination: There is a potential risk of new strain evading immunizations that are generated. The virus would need to accumulate many mutations in the spike protein to evade the immunity from vaccines or even by natural infection.
  5. Decrease in susceptibility to therapeutic agents such as monoclonal antibodies

India will have to face a huge challenge in the coming days, as genome sequencing is done only like less than one percent of all the cases. The late action on the double mutant variant had played a crucial role in elevating COVID cases in India. It is still not known if the triple mutant is more lethal when compared to the previous strains.

Experts in the country are researching the triple mutant’s role in COVID-related deaths, it’s symptoms and the effect of vaccination on it.

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