With the nation already dealing with a strong double mutant variant of the Covid-19 virus, reports now suggest that the southern states of the country could have been affected by a more lethal variant of the virus named N440K.
Also known as AP variant referring to the Indian state of Andhra Pradesh where it was first detected, the strain is said to be at least 15 times more virulent than the previous strains. It has a shorter incubation period and the virus is said to spread much more rapidly within the human body. It is also said that a short exposure is enough to get infected by the virus.
It was the Centre for Cellular and Molecular Biology that had discovered the new coronavirus variant N440K and said it may even be stronger than the Indian variants of B1.617 and B1.618.
The new N440K strain was found in almost 20 to 30 percent of the samples in Karnataka, Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu and Telangana and found to be more dominant than previous variants during cell culture.
N440K not responsible for the second wave
However, experts say that there is no need to panic over the new strain and that it was traced in last June itself. Centre for Cellular and Molecular Biology (CCMB) Advisor Rakesh Mishra in an interview to the New Indian Express remarked that the strain will fade away in a few weeks.
Anil Kumar Singhal, Principal Secretary (Health) informed, “In fact, the samples in which the N440K variant was traced were given in last June and July itself and it is not the new variant that has caused the surge in Covid cases. Scientists are doing their best to study the new variants and come up with solutions. On our side, we should not become panic-stricken by reports circulating on social media, instead adhere to Covid Appropriate Behaviour and help in curtailing the spread of the virus.”
While more research is being done to confirm the findings, the experts are simultaneously focusing on the Double Mutant to identify patterns that led to a surge in new Covid-19 cases responsible for the second wave.