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New Covid lineage has higher transmission ability: Docs

kolkata: The detection of new lineage of the SARS-CoV-2 virus, B.1.618 in Bengal, which has a much higher transmission ability, has left doctors worried.

Health experts apprehend that the vaccines may be less effective against the new variant.

Virologists pointed out that there are so many changes in the spike protein of the new variant and this can affect people, even those who have been vaccinated.

Similar was the case for the South African strain. Besides Bengal, the Indian variant was earlier found in Maharashtra, Punjab and Kerala.

"As many as 18 changes were detected in the genes of this new variant. It has great similarity with South African strain. This new variant can escape immunity even if a person has contracted the virus before. Many have therefore raised questions on the effectiveness of the vaccine to combat the new strain," a senior virologist from a private hospital said.

Dr G Mukherjee, a senior pathologist said a new variant has been found in India and it has pushed the spike of daily infection in Bengal further. "Though, research is still underway. The National Institute of Biomedical Genomics found this Bengal variant," Dr Mukherjee."Whatever we have learnt about the new variant, it appears to have huge transmitting capacity. We all have only one option , ie, to follow the Covid norms unless the situation may lead to a disaster," the doctor added.Health experts have pointed out that this is the second lineage identified from India. The earlier sequence was isolated from a patient in Bengal in October last year. The new variant may have contributed to the steep rise in Covid cases in Bengal, assume the experts.

"Changes often take place in the genome of a virus. When a new type emerges it is called a variant. When it is found that the characteristics of the disease are changed due to the variant and mortality rate is increased and people from a different age group are mostly affected, then that variant is called strain. It is yet to be seen if the newly found variant in Bengal ~ B.1.618 has that potential to turn into a strain," said Dr S Biswas, a senior doctor said. Besides Britain and South African strains, many strains from other states of India were also found in the patients from Bengal. One variant from India was called E4S4Q, another California L452R variant.

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