The government on Tuesday categorised the Delta Plus variant of COVID-19 as a ‘variant of concern’ after the health ministry was informed about its worrying characteristics.
INSACOG, a consortium of 28 laboratories involved in genome sequencing, informed the government on Tuesday that the Delta Plus variant has three characteristics — increased transmissibility, stronger binding to receptors of lung cells, and potential reduction in monoclonal antibody response.
"INSACOG has informed that the Delta Plus Variant, currently a Variant of Interest (VOI), has the following characteristics: Increased transmissibility, stronger binding to receptors of lung cells, Potential reduction in monoclonal antibody response," the health ministry stated.
INSACOG gives timely inputs on appropriate public health response measures to be adopted by states and union territories. Earlier, it had identified Delta Plus as a “variant of interest”.
While giving details on Delta Plus, the government asked states to keep a close watch and take immediate actions in clusters that are seeing these cases. Maharashtra, Kerala and Madhya Pradesh had 22 cases of Delta Plus by Tuesday.
Delta Plus or B.1.617.2.1 is mutated form of Delta variant that triggered a sharp surge in COVID cases during the second wave in India. Delta Plus is seen as a possible threat as it could drive the third wave of COVID.
Delta Plus variant has been detected in 10 countries -- India, Portugal, Switzerland, Japan, Poland, Nepal, China, Russia, the US and the UK -- while Delta variant has been detected in 80 countries.
White House chief medical advisor Dr. Anthony Fauci on Tuesday termed the Delta variant, first found in India, as the greatest threat to America's efforts to eradicate COVID-19. He said that its transmissibility is unquestionably greater and it is associated with increased disease severity.