The new coronavirus strain, found in the UK first, has 17 mutations in its genetic material. Eight of these mutations affect the spike protein that makes it highly transmittable as compared to the previous mutation. The new Covid-19 strain, dubbed as B.1.1.7, can be 70 per cent more transmissible than the earlier one.
The CSIR-Centre for Cellular and Molecular Biology (CCMB) in Hyderabad, which is among the ten research institutes tracing the new Covid-19 strain in India, says the new strain has not worsened the Covid-19 symptoms so far in India. Scientists don't find any specific challenges when it comes to vaccine research and believe the existing vaccines could work well against the new strain.
The new strain was first reported in the UK, which spread really fast in the country. Right now, around 60 per cent of all cases in the British country comprise the new Covid-19 strain.
The testing as well precautionary protocol for the new virus strain remains the same as before. "Using masks when in presence of others, avoiding crowded places, maintaining physical distancing are the most effective and feasible ways for avoiding this virus, including the new variant," Dr Rakesh Mishra, Director, CCMB, told India Today.
He said since India is the most affected country in terms of coronavirus after the US, there's a need to keep a tab on new other variants that might emerge independently here.
Six people who reached India from the UK and two more contacts have been detected with the new coronavirus strain on Tuesday.
"Samples of three UK returnees have been tested and found positive for new UK strain in NIMHANS, Bengaluru, two in Centre for Cellular and Molecular Biology, Hyderabad and one in National Institute of Virology, Pune. All six people have been kept in single room isolation," the health ministry said.
With this, the total number of infected persons, including those who returned from the UK and their contacts, has gone up to 20.
Also read: India suspends flights from UK till Dec 31