The second or third mutant variant of the COVID-19 known as B.1.617 may already be circulating in India and may be more dangerous, former Harvard Medical School professor William Haseltine said.
"India has the necessary genome sequencing capabilities but it needs to have a mass surveillance program. I'll be on the lookout for more and newer variants, given the opportunity the virus has had with such a massive outbreak," Bloomberg quoted Haseltine as saying.
The new observations which Prof Haseltine pointed out have more chances to be correct as the new variants of COVID-19 may be currently racing through India's tightly-packed population of 1.4 billion people.
India on May 6 registered a record 412,262 new infections and 3,980 deaths. The country is under the grip of COVID-19 and has been adding over 300,000 cases for 15 straight days which has taken its tally above 21 million.
With fears gripping the global arena over the new Indian variant of COVID-19, i.e. B.1.617, countries like Singapore, the UK and Tanzania have imposed travel restrictions from India.
Because of the presence of two changes in the virus's genome, called E484Q and L452R, the India strain has been called a double mutant, experts said.
Some of the researchers even estimate that the Indian variant (B.1.617) is as transmissible as the UK variant (B.1.1.7) and may be 70 percent more transmissible than earlier versions of the virusAs per research, these genomes affect a portion of the spike protein which is the key to the virus entering cells.
Some of the researchers even estimate that the Indian variant (B.1.617) is as transmissible as the UK variant (B.1.1.7) and may be 70 percent more transmissible than earlier versions of the virus.
However, initial analysis indicates that the Indian variant (B.1.617) does not pose a big threat and doesn't appear to be more dangerous.
It has been now classified as a variant of interest by the World Health Organization.
Hyderabad-bad based Centre for Cellular and Molecular Biology Rakesh Mishra had said that Bharat Biotech's Covaxin and AstraZeneca Plc's vaccine, called Covishield in India are effective against the strain.
Last week, BioNTech SE Chief Executive Officer Ugur Sahin opined that mRNA shot it's making with partner Pfizer Inc. would work against the India mutant.
"The Indian variant has the same mutation that we've already investigated and against which our vaccine was also effective," Sahin said.