Dominance of UK and Maharashtra Covid-19 variant behind Karnataka surge, finds study

To conclude, Ravi said that no variant can penetrate the face mask and if people should abide by Covid-19 appropriate behaviour. (Representative image)

Amidst the rising number of cases in Karnataka, the genome sequencing of Covid-19 positive samples has revealed that the double mutant Maharashtra strain (B.1.617) and UK variant (B.1.1.7) have emerged as the most dominant strains among the patients in the state replacing the previously dominant strain (B.1.36.29). The findings were revealed in the genome sequencing analysis done by the Department of Virology at Nimhans which is one of the 10 labs in the country engaged in genome sequencing of Coronavirus cases, the Indian Express reported.

Prof V Ravi who is working at the lab told the Indian Express that rapid spread of the Maharashtra and the UK variant is symptomatic of higher infection rate in the state. Ravi added that there is enough evidence of higher transmission rate of the UK variant but the infection rate of the Maharashtra variant remains to be analysed. He further said that so far there is no evidence to prove that one strain is more severe and dangerous than the others and the virus remains the same in terms of clinical behaviour. On the question of increasing severity and mortality of cases, Ravi said that cases are turning more severe as the country is registering a five time increase in the number of cases but there is no evidence to say that one strain is more severe than the others.

As far as the results found by the Nimhans lab are concerned, out of the 69 total positive samples collected between March and April end, 36 were Maharashtra variant, whereas 19 were related to the UK variant. In percentage terms the spread of Maharashtra variant was found to be 52 percent whereas that of the UK variant was 27.5 percent. In contrast between December 2020 and early March 2021, the strain which was dominant in the state was B.1.36.29 which is almost overshadowed by the UK and Maharashtra strain now.

Talking about other states which are reporting high case load in past few weeks, Ravi said that the UK variant has emerged as the main challenge in states like Punjab and Delhi whereas the Maharashtra variant has emerged as the dominant variant in Karnataka and 16 other states.

So far as the predictions of the third wave of Coronavirus are concerned, Ravi said that the present second wave will affect all the parts of the country whereas the next wave will hit the country later this year. Zeroing in on the October-December period for the third wave, Ravi said that the virus is going to stay a part of our lives for the long time to come and unless people comply with Covid-19 appropriate behaviour and the government in the country adopts a course correction, the third wave will also cause lots of damage. To conclude, Ravi said that no variant can penetrate the face mask and if people should abide by Covid-19 appropriate behaviour.

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