In a concerning development in the northeast’s currently most COVID-19 affected state, Mizoram, the highly contagious Delta Plus variant had been found in samples sent for genome sequencing in the month of August.
The state had sent 350 positive samples for Whole Genome Sequencing at National Institute of Biomedical Genomics, at Kalyani in West Bengal of which 3 samples have been confirmed to be of the Delta Plus variant, Mizoram Official Spokesperson on COVID-19 Dr Pachuau Lalmalsawma, said on Tuesday.
Lalmalsawma said of these 3 samples, 2 samples were from Champhai district and 1 sample from Kolasib district.
From the 350 samples, 70 samples were confirmed to be of the Delta Lineages, which scientists are currently testing and a variant name has not been designated.
213 samples collected from Aizawl, Lunglei, Kolasib, Champhai and Serchhip districts were of the Delta variant.
According to the UNICEF, The Delta Plus variant contains a new mutation in the spike protein the virus uses to enter human cells.
Containing mutations of two COVID variants- the Beta variant (discovered in South Africa) and the Delta variant (discovered in India), the Delta Plus contains two striking mutations- L452R and P871R which makes it more contagious than the other variants found in Northeast India so far, and more potent than the Delta variant.
According to researchers, the mutated variant is 60 per cent more potent than the Delta variant that has caused the second wave of the COVID-19 in the country.
Some studies have suggested that the variant could easily surpass immune defences, and bind strongly to lung cell receptors which, mean similar symptoms as in Delta variant, but will spread quicker once inside the host body and impact harder.
More studies are underway to determine an elaborated list of possible signs and symptoms.
The hill state that had performed extremely well with only one fatality in the first wave — March to September of 2020 — is in a soup this time with 16.39 per cent positivity, the highest in India.
With a 1.1 million population (2011 census), Mizoram, India’s second least populous state, has, so far, recorded over 70 thousand positive cases with over 240 fatalities.
Covid data analysis found that Mizoram, which shares borders with Myanmar and Bangladesh, had over 6.5 per cent of its population infected by the disease.
The state’s recovery rate is 82.74 per cent against the national recovery rate of 97.58 per cent.
According to state government data, over 7 lakh people have been inoculated, of which over three lakh people have received both doses of vaccines.
Of the state’s 11 districts, Aizawl district has registered highest number positive vases followed by Kolasib, the gateway to the state.