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BREAKING: Indian double mutant strain of COVID-19 finally detected in Assam

GUWAHATI: Assam’s health minister Himanta Biswa Sarma has just confirmed the presence of the Indian double mutant strain of the COVID-19 in the state. It has been detected in returnees touching down at the Dibrugarh airport in Upper Assam.

“Recent samples from Dibrugarh Airport are positive for B.1.617 strain or the Indian double mutant (L452R and E484Q) strain of SARS-Cov-2. We need to be very very careful,” the minister tweeted moments earlier.

The B.1.617 or ‘double mutant” Indian variant carries two mutations, including the L452R and E484Q, which have been seen separately before in other variants but never together in one variant.

The B.1.617 strain’s mutations are feared to make the variant spread faster and partially evade immunity.

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Amid the dramatic rise in virus cases and deaths across India, the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) on Wednesday said that Bharat Biotech’s Covid-19 vaccine Covaxin neutralizes multiple variants of SARS-CoV-2 and effectively works against the double mutant strain as well. ICMR-NIV has successfully isolated and cultured multiple variants of concern of SARS-CoV-2 virus: B.1.1.7 (the UK variant), B.1.1.28 (Brazil variant), and B.1.351 (South Africa variant).

The minister had earlier revealed that genome sequencing of the virus strains in Assam is being done at the ICMR’s unit at Lahowal, Dibrugarh. Earlier, the UK strain of the SARS-Cov-2 — which stays in the air for a longer time compared to the original Wuhan version — was also discovered among returnees.

Amid an uptick in cases, the Assam government had on Wednesday night announced that all people coming from outside will have to undergo seven days of compulsory home quarantine, as the state’s COVID-19 tally shot up to 2,29,138 with 1,150 fatalities.

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