In a bid to combat the impending third wave of Chinese coronavirus the Union Health Ministry on Tuesday issued advisory to Maharashtra, Kerala and Madhya Pradesh on the new Delta Plus variant of the virus. The variant is currently a Variant of Concern (VOC). Union Health Ministry has from time to time alerted the State Governments on critical points in the trajectory of COVID-19 for implementing an effective Public Health Response under a “whole of government” approach.
Union Health Secretary has communicated to these three states that the new variant has been found in genome sequenced samples from Ratnagiri and Jalgaon Districts of Maharashtra; Palakkad and Pathanamthitta Districts of Kerala; and Bhopal and Shivpuri Districts of Madhya Pradesh. This is based on the recent findings of INSACOG, a consortium of 28 laboratories of Ministry of Health & Family Welfare, Dept. of Biotechnology, Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) and Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR).
According to INSACOG, the Delta Plus Variant, currently a Variant of Concern (VOC), has the following characteristics:
- Increased transmissibility
- Stronger binding to receptors of lung cells
- Potential reduction in monoclonal antibody response
The health ministry has advised these three state governments to take immediate containment measures in districts and clusters as identified by INSACOG and also to follow other COVID protocols like preventing crowds, increased testing and vaccination coverage on priority basis. These state governments are also advised to ensure that adequate samples of positive persons are sent to the designated laboratories of INSACOG. This will help in clinical epidemiological correlations and further guidance can be provided to States.