Director-General, ICMR, Dr Balram Bhargava told News18 that the variants are neither new nor Indian. “These two virus strains have been detected in other countries too and are not specific to India. Moreover, they have been found earlier in some states in India. The E484Q strain was earlier detected in four sequences in Maharashtra as early as March and July last year. The N440K mutation has been reported on 13 different occasions between May and September 2020 in Telangana, Andhra Pradesh and Assam. The current upsurge in Maharashtra cannot be attributed to the currently discussed point mutations.”
Dr Paul also said that India has 194 people infected with the UK, South Africa and Brazil strains.
“A total of 187 individuals have been reported infected with UK strain, six people with South African strain and one with Brazilian strain till date,” Dr Paul said.
“Based on information available to us, there’s no reason today for us to believe that these are responsible for the upsurge of the outbreak that you see in some districts of Maharashtra and Kerala.”
According to figures, Maharashtra and Kerala have contributed over 50,000 cases or 75% of the total caseload today. Kerala is responsible for 37.85 per cent of cases, while Maharashtra for 36.87 per cent, the health ministry said.
On the other hand, India’s cumulative positivity rate shows a downward trend and was 5.19 per cent on Tuesday. “Positivity rate — cumulative as well as weekly and daily — is declining across the country,” health ministry secretary Rajesh Bhushan said.
Bhushan also said that India has inoculated at least 1.17 crore people — 1.04 crore got the first dose and 12.61 lakh the second dose — across the country.
“The active cases continue to be less than 1.50 lakh. If you look at the average of deaths taking place daily, it was 92 last week- a trend of fewer than 100 deaths,” Bhushan said in a weekly press briefing.
(With agency inputs)