With elections ongoing in West Bengal, scientists report the emergence of a new lineage of coronavirus that may comprise as much as 15% of the genomes in the State from January to March.
The new variant, B.1.618, has a major mutation called E484K — found in several of the internationally identified variants of concern — that helps it evade the immune system and possibly compromise vaccine efficacy.
On April 8, INSACOG (Indian SARS-CoV-2 Consortium on Genomics), a group of 10 Indian labs working across the country on sequencing genomes from coronavirus patients, named a “double mutant variant” as B.1.617 that contains two mutations, E484Q and another L245R.
At least 129 of the 130 B.1.618 sequences in India were found in samples from West Bengal.
Currently, India has 62.5 per cent of the B.1.618 variants reported in the world, as per analysis on the outbreak.info. However, the lineages found here do not have a full complement of variants as found in India, experts have said.