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Covid variants have sprung up in nations around the world, including England, Brazil and South Africa. Each variant sprouts when the virus can effectively propagate, and as such, they have cropped up in areas with comparatively high Covid rates. The latest comes from India, and it has already spread beyond national borders.
Each variant has caused resurging fears of blunted vaccine efficacy.
Scientists have feared their mutations allow them to bypass some of the protections afforded by the jab.
So far, they believe each candidate can effectively hold out, but the Indian variant has produced new questions.
Officially, the variant goes by B.1.617, and its two mutations have made it uniquely troublesome.
Researchers have identified two distinct variations within the virus’ DNA.
B.1.617 has the infamous antibody-evading E484K variant behind the Brazil and South African variants of concern.
And it has the Californian variant’s L452R mutation, which makes it more infectious.
While medical professionals must still understand more, they have expressed concerns.
Speaking to Sky News, Dr Deepti Gurdasanim, a clinical epidemiologist at Queen Mary University of London, said there is “more than enough” to raise fears.
She said: “This is quite worrying, it builds a really concerning picture as it ticks all the boxes for rising cases and outcompeting the vaccine.
“We don’t have definitive data but we can see from the other variants there’s more than enough to be concerned about.”
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India is currently in the midst of one of the most severe covid outbreaks in the world.
Since April 15, officials have reported more than 200,000 cases per day.
On April 20, they recorded a new high of more than 295,000, with a seven-day average of 248,901.
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi likened the situation to being “hit by a storm”.
He added: “The battle is long and difficult, but we have to overcome it together with our dedication and courage.”
The latest wave is their second and most severe, and the new “double mutant” strain is the driving force behind it.
Sluggish vaccine rollout, an overwhelmed health system and a perceived lack of preparedness have allowed the variant to gather momentum.
Other countries have responded by prohibiting travel into the country, and Boris Johnson recently cancelled a planned visit.
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