Like all viruses, the coronavirus keeps varying in small ways as it passes from one person to another. The vast majority of these alterations are insignificant and don’t alter the way the virus behaves. But some mutations trigger changes in the spike protein that the virus uses to bolt on to and enter human cells – these variants could possibly be more infectious, cause more severe disease or evade vaccines. The detection of the double mutant variant has come at a time when the second wave of the Covid-19 pandemic is getting sturdier by the day in India.

The double mutant Covid-19 variant was detected in samples collected from Maharashtra. This variant carries what’s being called the E484Q and L452R mutations. These changes have taken place in the spike protein of the SARS-CoV-2, the coronavirus that causes Covid-19. The coronavirus uses its barb proteins to latch on to human cells and vigor its way inside to reproduce swiftly. This is how a Covid-19 infection takes place. The double mutant Covid variant is a concern as the Union health ministry said in its statement that “such mutations confer immune escape and increased infectivity” to the coronavirus.

It is, however, not yet determined whether mutations in the same variant can shield the novel coronavirus from known medications and the two vaccines approved in India. Scientists are probing this aspect. Such an ‘immune escape’ can happen only when mutation or mutations make the resultant virus behave completely different from the original variant. Some reports have pointed out that the two mutations are similar to the ones reported from the Brazilian and South African variants detected last year, and the mutation detected in the US, where it was called the California variant.

Well, we just hope that the cure for this deadly virus is availed by the people and we get the cure as soon as possible.

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Joydev Mishra


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