No new COVID-19 variant of concern has emerged, says Dr NK Arora

New Delhi [India] : No new variant of concern (VOC) or variant of interest (VOI) of COVID-19 has emerged in the country, said Dr NK Arora, co-chair of the Indian SARS-CoV-2 Genomics Consortium (INSACOG), on Sunday.
“During last four-five months, no new variant of concern or interest has emerged. Initially, there were some concerns with ‘Delta +’, but later on we have found this is the part of the lineage which we call as AY (there are 1 to 13). Though new sub lineages coming up but none of them have been found to be either more infection or more virulent bit they are under constant watch,” Dr Arora told ANI. However, the Delta variant of COVID-19 continuing to remain as the main VOC in India.

The current status of VOC/VOI is found to be distributed in 459 districts across all 36 States and Union Territories of the country. The SARS-CoV-2 VOC/VOls detected in community samples are Delta- 25,164, AY series- 4143, Kappa and B.1.617.3 is 5364, Alpha-3,655, Beta- 102 and Gamma-1.
The cumulative number of samples with pangolin lineage till the month of September is 60,043.
A further categorisation shows that 54,865 community samples were taken and 5,178 samples were of travellers. The total VOC/VOI is 39,283 with amounts to 65.4 in proportion.
Dr Arora added, “In addition, the country is constantly picking up samples from all over the country and there is a constant vigil to see that if anything of concern arises, prompt action will be taken. These days whenever there is a virus sample is picked up within three/ four weeks we know the status. Time-lapse between picking up the sample and the complete process has been shortened. We have sufficient capacity and have also prepared ourselves.”
Significantly along with government labs, private labs could also do sampling, he noted.
“In addition, to the current labs capacity if required we can get the sample done from private sectors as vendors as there is a huge private sector capacity also,” said Dr Arora.
In the month of December, 10 genome sequencing labs were made under a consortium, INSACOG. This has recently been expanded in the last three months to 28 labs with a monthly capacity of 80,000 samples that can be sequenced.
There has also been no change as far Delta variant is concerned from a global perspective also which includes B.1.617.2 (AY) and AY.x sublineages.

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