An Indian SARS-CoV-2 Variant Lands In California. More Danger Ahead?

Yet another variant of SARS-CoV-2 has arrived on our shores from afar. A recent survey of the viral sequences infecting Californians turned up six independent isolates of a variant that is now circulating widely in India. Over the past two months, infection rates in India have exploded.

On April 9th, 145,384 India reported 145,382 new infections, a tenfold increase over the 11,012 new infections reported on February 9, just two months ago. The Indian variant designated B.1.617 is likely, at least in part, to be driving the current wave. The new strain has been detected in at least 5 Indian states, including Maharashtra, Delhi, and Punjab, which have all contributed to the surge of cases in the country, in addition to the B.1.1.7 (UK), B.1.351 (South Africa), and P.1 (Brazil) variants which are also circulating India. It is unknown the extent to which this strain has spread, but of the 2,844 sequences submitted to the GISAID database from India since March 1, 162 sequences have been classified as B.1.617, or about 6%. This percentage is likely to grow. This is all the more reason for concern now that this variant has arrived here in the United States.

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© William A. Haseltine, PhD. All Rights Reserved.