New 'double mutant' variant believed responsible for India's rising cases
Pakistan has placed a travel ban on all incoming passengers from India over fears of the “double mutant” coronavirus variant.
The National Command and Operations Centre decided on Monday to place India on the list of Category C countries for two weeks.
In this category, there will be a ban on people coming from India through air and land routes.
As per COVID-19 travel guidelines, countries in category C are restricted and are only allowed as per guidelines by the NCOC. A review of category C countries will be carried out on April 21.
A new coronavirus variant, B.1.617, in India is believed to be behind the present surge of infections.
It has two mutations in the virus spike protein that might make it easier to escape immune responses as well as spread faster. The B.1.617 variant was first detected in India’s Maharashtra state in March.
Statistics shared by the National Institute of Virology, Pune showed that of the 361 COVID-19 samples taken in Maharashtra from January to March and genome sequenced, 61% or 220 had the double mutation E484Q and L452R, according to the Indian Express.
Some medical professionals in India have also warned that the new variant could reduce the efficacy of the domestically produced Covishield vaccine.
“We don’t yet know whether further mutations would make current vaccines useless, this is unlikely. However, the efficacy of vaccines may be reduced due to mutations,” Business Standard quoted virologist Shahid Jameel, director of the Trivedi School of Biosciences at Ashoka University, as saying.
The rising COVID-19 cases and the new variant have led Britain and Pakistan to impose curbs on travellers from India. London has said only British and Irish nationals from India are allowed to enter.