By Sahil Pandey/Priyanka Sharma
New Delhi, February 23 — Even as the country's COVID-19 trajectory is declining, India has detected two new variants of the virus– namely N440 K and E484Q in Maharashtra and Kerala, the Union Health Ministry said on Tuesday.
The Centre, however, noted that there is no scientific evidence to believe that these two newer virus strains are responsible for the surge in cases in some districts in these two states.
"Two new variants– N440K and E484Q have been found in Maharashtra, Kerala and Telangana. However, it cannot be assured that these two new virus strains are responsible for the surge of fresh COVID-19 in these states," Dr VK Paul, Member (Health) of the NITI Aayog said during the weekly COVID-19 update.
Echoing similar views, Dr Balram Bhargava, Director General of ICMR pointed: "There is no direct relation between the recent surge in COVID19 cases in Maharashtra and some other States with the mutant virus strains N440K and E484Q of coronavirus disease."
The E484Q strain was earlier detected in four sequences in Maharashtra as early as March and July 2020. The N440K mutation has been reported on 13 different occasions between May and September 2020 in Telangana, Andhra Pradesh and Assam," Dr Bhargava said.
In the recent past, India has already reported different mutants of the Covid-19 virus. These include the UK virus strain, the variant from Brazil and the South African strain. These three virus strain all together have affected at least 194 individuals across the country.