The Indian variant of COVID, or more accurately B.1.617, has made its way into Pakistan and several countries worldwide. Pakistan confirmed its first case on May 28th, detected in the National Institute of Health (NIH) Islamabad.
By Areeba Mahmood
After this new variant wreaked havoc in India, Pakistan imposed a travel ban on anyone coming from India. However, it has been reported that the virus was brought into the country by travellers from Thailand.
The Indian variant of COVID: What is it?
Delta variant, as the WHO has called it, is the newly detected strain of SARS-CoV-2. It has three sub-variants. Out of the three, B.1.617.2 is dominant, as it has been detected in most cases. Another less common variant is B.1.617.1. The Indian variant has spread to several countries, with the UK reporting the highest number of cases after India.
The new variants have not come as a surprise to researchers or scientists as viruses mutate frequently. The more the virus spreads, the more it replicates, which increases the incidence of mutations. However, the mutation does not affect the virus’s ability to infect or cause disease. Still, depending on which part of the RNA virus underwent mutation, it can increase the transmissibility and severity, making it more harmful than the former variant.
The big reason for worry
There is not much evidence suggesting that this variant is deadlier than other strains, but it does seem to spread a lot faster than other variants. The new strain may also be more resistant to vaccines and lower their efficacy. Despite the lack of research, this has been declared a worrisome variant.
Researchers and health officers have been working tirelessly to study these new variants and their behaviours. The efficacy of vaccines against the new Indian variant is uncertain, but they must be still effective to some extent since they elicit a broad immune response. The increased transmissibility of this new variant makes it more important to follow SOPs and get vaccinated as soon as possible strictly.
-The author is contributing writer at Medical News Pakistan and can be reached at email@example.com